Monday, February 23, 2015

Kkotkgae Maun Bokkeum (Korean Spicy Crab)

     Korean Spicy Crab!
     Kkotkgae Maun Bokkeum is a very tasty Korean crab recipe.  Flower Crab is what Korean chefs use to make the traditional recipe, but Flower Crabs are hard to come by outside of Asia.  Blue Crab is a similar species of swimming crab and it is a good substitute.
     I found live Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs for sale at the Greenland Market in Korea Town, Las Vegas.  The crabs in the pictures were extremely lively and they were grabbing anything that moved, including my fingers!  Fresh live Chesapeake Blue Crab is as good as crab gets!

     Since I picked up a basketful of interesting items at the Korean food market, making a traditional Korean crab recipe was an easy decision.  There are many spicy hot recipes in Korean cuisine.  The level of chile pepper heat can be adjusted to suit personal taste.  Just pretend that the home dining room is a noodle house restaurant and ask the guests to pick a spicy heat level number between 1 and 10!
     Most Korean restaurants offer a spicy heat scale of 1 through 10 for customers to choose from.  I personally prefer spicy food to be as spicy as it can be, within reasonable bounds.  Let your personal taste be the guide for the amount of chile spice in Korean recipes, but keep in mind that some Korean recipes are really meant to be extra spicy hot.

     Kkotkgae Maun Bokkeum:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée that can also be served as an appetizer for 2 guests.
     Be sure to prepare all the ingredients ahead of time, before starting the stir fry in this recipe!
     Step 1:  Boil 2 quarts of water in a pot over high heat.
     Drop 2 live blue crabs in the boiling water.
     Boil the crabs, till the shell turns an orange color and till the crabs are fully cooked.   (The cooking time depends on the size of the crab.  About 8 to 12 minutes is usually enough time.)  
     Step 2:  Place the crabs on a cutting board and chop them in half with a cleaver or heavy knife.  (A few of the claws and legs may fall off and that is okay.)
     Set the blue crab halves aside.
     Step 3:  Heat a wok or a sauté pan over medium/medium high heat.
     Add about 1/3 cup of vegetable oil.
     Dredge the blue crab pieces in rice flour.
     Add the crab pieces to the hot oil in the pan.
     Stir fry for 30 seconds, till the flour turns a light golden color.
     Step 4:  Drain the excess oil out of the pan, but leave about 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan.
     Step 5:  Add 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion to the crab in the pan.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced garlic.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced ginger.
     Add 3 finely chopped green hybrid twisted peppers (chile padrón) or 2 finely chopped green serrano peppers.
     Stir fry for about 1 minute till the vegetables become aromatic and tender.
     Step 6:  Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
     Add 2 tablespoons of Korean Red Chile Sambal Paste (gochujang) or spicy Malaysian Sambal.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Korean red chile powder.  (Gochugaru or a mixture of paprika and cayenne pepper.)
     Add 1/4 cup of Sriracha (Garlic Red Serrano Pepper Sauce).
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of pure sesame oil.
     Add 2 tablespoons of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar.
     Add sea salt.  (Taste before adding sea salt.  Some Korean sambal pastes are salty!)
     Step 7:  Bring the sauce to a boil.
     Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl.
     Add just enough of the cornstarch slurry to the sauce in the pan, while stirring, to thicken the sauce to a medium thin sauce consistency.
     Step 8:  Add 1 thin sliced green onion.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place 5 perilla leaves on the border of a plate, so that they are evenly spaced.
     Mound the Korean spicy crab pieces on the center of the plate.
     Spoon any excess sauce over the crab.
     Sprinkle a little bit of thin sliced green onion top over the Korean Spicy Crab.

     Viola!  Spicy fresh live crab Korean style! 

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