Auguest 2020: Jenel Laureta

Deconstructed Spicy Seafood Jambalaya

“Learn as much as you can through reading cookbooks, watching cooking shows, attending short cooking classes, and from other people. Then try to incorporate all these in your daily cooking.” — Jenel Laureta

Auguest 2020: Jenel Laureta

I was greatly influenced by my paternal grandfather to love food and cooking! Hands down, he was a great cook because there was not a dish I didn’t like. All his dishes were simply delicious. His cooking was not by-the-book and he had no recipes to follow. He cooked by taste and with utmost passion.

In my Lolo Pepe’s kitchen, I began with peeling garlic and onions for homemade atchara. We were busiest in the kitchen during town fiestas. Lolo Pepe would whip up his specialties: Asadong Manok, Mechadong Baka, and Adobong Hito to name a few. I would linger in the kitchen to smell the bubbling sauces and of course to get a taste of each cooked dish.

From him, I also learned how to appreciate good food. We weren’t rich but he wouldn’t settle for less than the best. I remember that he would always buy our butter from a PX store and we would always travel to a nearby city to eat good food.

A great part of my childhood memory is about food and cooking, and this may be the reason why until now I love to eat and cook! In my kitchen now, I try to replicate Lolo Pepe’s cooking. Although I do not have any recipes to follow, I just try to remember the smell, the taste, and the look of a certain dish!

Deconstructed Spicy Seafood Jambalaya

Jambalaya is a popular dish of West African, French (especially in Provençal cuisine), Spanish and Native American influence; similar to, but distinct from, other rice-and-meat dishes known in Louisiana cuisine.

An easy Jambalaya recipe is pure comfort food filled to the brim with flavor. A soffritto-like trinity of onion, bell peppers and celery are also included, along with rice, chilies, cajun spice, other seasonings, and broth. Jambalaya is a quintessential one pot recipe, usually cooked together until the rice is done, but since this is a recipe for a deconstructed Jambalaya, we’re going to need a pot/pan more or two.

Deconstructed Spicy Seafood Jambalaya Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 45 MINS | SERVES 1-2

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pc river prawn
  • 1 pc blue swimmer crab
  • 1 pc crab claw
  • 3 pcs large prawns
  • 4 pcs mussels
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 whole green bell pepper, cubed
  • 1 medium-sized white onion, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 pcs red chili, diced (optional)
  • 1 & 1/2 to 2 cups seafood broth or water
  • 1 to 1 & 1/2 tbsp cajun spice
  • 1 can (approx. 400g) diced tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • Cherry tomatoes, lightly fried, for garnish

METHOD

  1. Jambalaya Stew: Add olive oil in a shallow pan and start sautéing in this order: green bell pepper, celery, white onion, and then garlic. Add cajun spice and continue cooking for a further 2 minutes.
  2. Pour the can of diced tomatoes and let it cook until softened before adding a cup of seafood broth or water. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add assorted seafood and cover until cooked. Add more seafood broth or water as needed and leave to simmer, seasoning with salt according to your taste.
  4. Once the assorted seafood is cooked through, fish out into a bowl and set aside.
  5. Jambalaya Rice: In a separate pan, sauté the garlic until golden and fragrant.
  6. Ladle about a cup of the jambalaya stew and add it to the pan with sautéed garlic. Leave to simmer to allow the flavors to concentrate.
  7. Add the cooked rice and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and allow the rice to absorb all the stew.
  8. Jambalaya Soup: Add half a cup of seafood broth to the remaining jambalaya stew and simmer.
  9. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Optional, if you want an intense jambalaya flavor, you can add a half teaspoon more of cajun spice.
  10. Purée the stew in a blender and pass it through a fine sieve.
  11. Pour soup in a bottle and keep warm.
  12. Assembly: Arrange the assorted seafood in a large shallow plate and garnish with lightly fried cherry tomatoes.
  13. Pour the warm jambalaya soup over the assorted seafood and serve with jambalaya rice. Enjoy!

Deconstructed Spicy Seafood Jambalaya

Deconstructed Spicy Seafood Jambalaya

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2020 | Jenel Laureta (@jenel.laureta)

BON APPÉTIT

– Jenel Laureta

myTaste.com

Singapore Chilli Crab with Fried Mantou

Singapore Chilli Crab with Fried Mantou

Hello Everyone! As I said in my very first post for the year, I wanted to see how many of you will be able to guess the theme for this year. As of now, you probably have enough information for an idea, and to be honest, it’ll only get clearer (maybe) in April. So for now, I’ll keep you guys guessing!

Chilli Crab is a Southeast Asian seafood dish, popularised and promoted in Singapore as its national dish. The dish dates back to 1956 where a husband and wife started selling an improvised recipe of stir-fried crabs mixed with bottled chilli and tomato sauce from a pushcart.

Despite its name, it is actually not a very spicy dish at all. It is a dish where mud crabs, or any other species of crab, are stir-fried in a semi-thick, sweet and savoury tomato and chilli based sauce. The sauce is described as sensuous, sweet yet savoury, and fluffy in texture.

Singapore Chilli Crab with Fried Mantou

When it comes to eating Chilli Crab, forget about cutlery. It is traditionally eaten with bare hands as a means to savour the juicy crab meat. Restaurants that serve this each often provide wet towels or a small washing bowl with lime for diners to clean their hands after their meal. Additionally, don’t be shy. Ask for a bib. Or wear a bib when eating at home. Seriously. It will keep your clothes free from stains and sauce drops.

Chilli Crab is commonly ordered with a side dish of plain or fried rice, vegetables, or other seafood dishes such as fish. Regardless of those, there’s one thing that can’t be left out when you order Chilli Crab that contrasts so deliciously with the sauce: Bright Golden Pillows. Or simply, fried mantou buns. These crispy and greasy little nuggets are used to soak up the sauce from the Chilli Crab. They are sweet, soft, and sinful.

Before we dive into tonight’s recipe, check out the original recipe over on Serious Eats by Yvonne Ruperti.

Singapore Chilli Crab Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 10-12 MINS | SERVES 3-4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 whole Mud or Dungeness Crabs (about 600g – 800g in weight for each)*
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 red bird’s eye chillies, minced
  • 1 half-inch knob ginger, grated
  • 1 large free-range egg, beaten
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 1 stalk green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 shrimp bouillon cube
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup hot-sweet chilli sauce
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch, mixed with 2 tbsp of water to make a slurry
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To serve on the side

  • Steamed rice
  • Fried mantou (Chinese Buns)**

* Check out this YouTube video by Sydney Fish Market on how to choose, clean, and prepare your crabs; best to keep the fat and creamy part inside the top shell for the extra crab flavour that it’ll lend to the dish.
** You can make your own mantou buns by following this recipe over on China Sichuan Food. Alternatively, you may also find them at your local grocer or supermarket, if available.

Frozen Mantou Buns

METHOD

  1. In a large wok or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium until shimmering. Add in the garlic, onion, ginger, and chillies. Cook until lightly browned and fragrant for about a minute.
  2. Add the crab pieces, water, and shrimp bouillon cube. Increase the heat to medium-high, cover loosely, and bring to a gentle boil. Decrease the heat if necessary. Cook for about 6 minutes, until the crab has turned red and is nearly cooked through.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste and chilli sauce. Simmer for about a minute and then season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and bring back to a boil for the sauce to thicken.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in beaten egg. Transfer to a serving dish and top with sliced green onions and fresh chillies.
  5. Serve with steamed rice and/or fried mantou buns. Take care when eating the sauce – it may have bits of shell in it from the crab. Enjoy!

Singapore Chilli Crab with Fried Mantou

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

O Crab Sydney

“O Crab ain’t just another crab shack or seafood diner! The restaurant pays homage to the American seafood pub scene dishing out bags O Crabs with customers breaking out the mallets and getting messy all whilst enjoying a craft beer, or two or three…”

O Crab Sydney

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday on the blog! I actually had this review scheduled for last week, and when I realised that I was going to be covering seafood month, I thought I’d push this review to today as it sits with the theme for the month of September on Amcarmen’s Kitchen. Wow, I just realised that that was a really long sentence! I think I was living with Marissa at the time she came across this restaurant while she was browsing through Instagram for a place for us to have our next girls brunch out. She came across O Crab and asked if I wanted to go; I had a look at the pictures on their Instagram and was already hooked on the idea of crabs in a bag, eating them with disposable aprons, gloves, and a mini Thor hammer. They definitely lived up to their statement of a truly unique dining experience.

It’s been a while since I came and visited O crab, I’m guessing it was somewhere in the middle of winter around late June or early July, so bear with me if I can’t remember what the dish tasted like. Trust me though, you’re going to want to pay them a visit when you get a load of the pictures. Also, before I forget to mention, when we were about to leave the place, the waiter asked us if we wanted to sample their Jolly Rancher Cocktails, which at the time, they weren’t serving on their menu just yet, but now I think they are. It was a Sunday after lunch kind of day and already we were doing vodka shots of Jolly Ranchers haha! We told the waiter to not give Marissa any shots since she was underaged (she wasn’t, but we just wanted to play with her a bit). It tasted really good and I’m glad that it’s on their menu now but sad that I won’t get another opportunity to have a proper drink of it!

O Crab Sydney
One more thing! If you check in on Facebook or upload an image on Instagram with the hashtag #ocrabitson and #ocrabsydney you get a free soft drink! How cool is that? Actually, another thing I remembered when I was just about to post this review, we also got complimentary nachos while waiting for our meals! #winning #sofood #muchfree

FEELIN’ PECKISH…

O Crab Sydney: O Crab Seafood Chowder
O Crab Seafood Chowder: Creamy taste of the sea – mussels, prawns, fish, and seasonal veg served in a freshly baked bread bowl ($12.00)

I love a good chowder, and what better way to warm up from such a cold morning it was that day we trekked to O Crab than a seafood chowder in a bread bowl! It was well seasoned, definitely creamy in texture, and nicely finished with a soggy bread bowl to nom on. Since it was a very long time ago since I had this dish, I can’t remember if there were pieces of fish in the soup or they were all just blended together, but I guess it would’ve been nice to have a few pieces of mussels, prawns, and fish in the there instead of just all soup.

CRABS AND PRAWNS “IN A BAG”

O Crab Sydney: Blue Swimmer Crabs in Original Old Bay
Blue Swimmer Crabs in Original Old Bay: American blend of herbs and spiced seasoning ($25.00 per crab)

I remember this dish very well and because the Original Old Bay sauce was to die for! I remember we were dipping everything we could find, the prawns, fries, and even the bread bowl from our chowder into this sauce because it was just that amazing. Besides the sauce, the crab was also cooked well and had a lot of meat in it (I cannot stress the number of times I’ve had crab that was all shell and no meat).

O Crab Sydney: Snow Crab Cluster in Cajun
Snow Crab Cluster in Cajun: Classic Louisiana style spiced seasoning ($29.00 per cluster)

The seasoning for this crab cluster wasn’t bad but it was my least favourite from the three sauces/seasonings that we picked. Nonetheless, the crab clusters were well cooked, and again packed a lot of meat into those legs so I couldn’t complain. Also, we dipped the crab meat in the Original Old Bay sauce anyway so it was pretty damn good!

O Crab Sydney: 300G Prawns in Garlic Butter
300G Prawns in Garlic Butter: Special blend with herbs ($18.00)

The prawns were pretty good as well, well cooked that they were melt in the mouth kind of good, and the sauce was garlicky, buttery (as you’d imagine garlic butter sauce to be anyway), and simply delicious. There’s really nothing more that I can say about these prawns really; I have no issues with it.

BURGERS & FRIES

O Crab Sydney: O Crabby Patty Burger
O Crabby Patty Burger: O Crab signature spiced crab patty with lettuce, grilled pineapple, and chilli mayo served with original fries ($19.00)

I only had a small bite of the burger only because this was actually Jialing’s dish. She wasn’t too fond of crabs even though she tried very hard to want to like it. So instead, she ordered a burger for herself. I can’t remember what the burger tasted like but I do hope for your sake that the patty is cooked through but still juicy on the inside. That would be perfect. Oh, you can also substitute original fries for sweet potato fries for an extra $2.50 – I don’t know why we didn’t get the sweet potato fries!

O Crab Sydney

I really enjoyed our dining experience at O Crab; I wish I had gone back a second time for some Jolly Rancher Cocktails and more crabs of course! Also, I could not have chosen better people to dine with that day. The food was superb and I really could not fault the dishes that we had; so I’d say the food for me is a sure 9/10. When we got there, the restaurant was in fact empty, which I thought was kind of weird for a weekend and during lunch, but anyway, it meant for a quicker service for us. I guess it was good also in a way that we were then able to sample their Jolly Rancher Cocktail since we were the only ones there. Though it was quiet because we were the only ones there (what am I saying, we were a very noisy table on our own!), the ambience was quite nice and in theme with the whole crab shack/seafood diner vibe of wooden crates and ropes that decorated the restaurant; 8/10. If you’ve got the money to spend on high quality mud crabs then go for it! Mud crabs are based on market price and when we saw their Instagram post from a few weeks ago, a 1.4kg (or something of that weight) mud crabs was going to cost you a whopping $95!!! Other than that, the blue swimmer crab and snow crab cluster are quite affordable; 7/10. I do highly recommend this place if you want some good quality seafood at an American themed crab shack and a beer to go with that.

O Crab Sydney: Aftermath

O Crab Sydney
Suite 2/9 Railway Street
Chatswood, New South Wales
Australia, 2067

– Ally xx

Cayenne Crab & Corn Bisque

Cayenne Crab & Corn Bisque

Hello Everyone! We’ve made it halfway through Winter Warmer Month and today I’ve got something for spicy and seafood lovers out there. Well, I mean maybe not all seafood lovers will fancy this just because I know some people who do love seafood, but can’t do crabs because of its taste/texture, or even prawns because of the way it looks. Anyway, if you like spicy, crab, and sweet corn in a nice creamy soup, then this recipe is for you!

Cayenne Crab & Corn Bisque Ingredients

A bisque is basically a soup of French origin from a crustacean-based broth (either from lobster, crab, shrimp, or crayfish) that is smooth, creamy, and highly seasoned. Traditionally, you would extract the flavour from imperfect crustaceans that are not good enough to sell at markets. In an authentic bisque, the shells are ground to a fine paste and added to thicken the soup. Seafood bisques are traditionally served in a low two-handled cup on a saucer or in a mug. However, not all bisques contain seafood. Bisque is also sometimes used to refer to cream-based soups in which pre-cooked ingredients such as squash, tomato, mushroom, and red pepper are puréed or processed in a food processor.

Anyway, two days ago I went to the Sydney Fish Markets with my roommate Marissa (from Maiyummy) and her friend Rachel to indulge in delectable seafood plates from the barbecue and grill place, as well as purchasing some fresh seafood for our own cooking. I bought some live flame clams and blue swimmer crabs for this particular recipe. Actually, I hadn’t planned on making a seafood bisque for Winter Warmer Month, but as soon as I knew that I was going to make a trip to the fish market, I had to do a seafood soup of some sort! Anyway, enough talk and let get to the menu shall we? You can find the original recipe over on All Recipes; I changed the order of the method and the seasonings but it still worked out fine.

Cayenne Crab & Corn Bisque Ingredients

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 45 MINS | SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 450g fresh crabmeat (I got mine from blue swimmer crabs)
  • 2 ears of corn, cut from the cob
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 small-sized onion, diced
  • 1 cup chicken broth*
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup thickened cream
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper powder
  • Ground salt and black pepper to taste

*I made my own by combining chicken carcasses, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and a bit of ginger in a pot of water and boiled it for about 45 minutes to an hour, otherwise store bought broth, or a chicken cube/powder with water will do the trick as well.

METHOD

  1. Wash and clean the crabs thoroughly and place in a steamer and steam for about 20 minutes. Once done, remove from the steamer and set aside to cool. If you’ve purchased crab flesh in a jar, then you can skip this step altogether.
  2. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat, be careful as to not brown/burn the butter. Add the garlic and sauté for about a minute or two before adding the the onions and cooking them until soft.
  3. Add in the corn kernels followed by the bay leaves, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Mix around and cook for about a minute or two before adding the chicken broth in with the mixture.
  4. Bring the broth to a boil and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove 1 cup of the soup and set aside.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low and pour in the thickened cream. Using a stick blender, blend the corn together with the liquid in the cooking pot until smooth. Turn the heat up to medium-high once again and return the unblended soup to the cooking pot and mix well.
  6. In a small bowl, stir together the flour and milk. Slowly and constantly stir the mixture into the simmering soup. Stir in crabmeat (leaving a few pieces behind to decorate with) and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes.
  7. Divide the soup equally into serving bowls (4 large bowls, or 6 small bowls) and top with some crabmeat, corn, cayenne pepper, and fresh afro parsley.

Cayenne Crab & Corn Bisque

Cayenne Crab & Corn Bisque

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com