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Tuesday, 21 August 2012

My Grandma's Steamed Crab Cakes (Chim Koay)


Two Saturdays ago was rather historic for me, my maiden attempt at cooking crabs. Hah! I wanted to recreate Grandma's steamed crab cakes and for the sake of authenticity (and nostalgia), I had to fill them in crab shells.

So I went to the supermarket and checked out the crabs. There were 2 types available, the flower crab (already dead and frozen) and the other type with dark green shells (live  ones and also packaged and chopped up). The nice Bangla man was recommending the live crabs, pointing out to me the ones that have crab roe. 

I couldn't possibly handle the live ones (previous attempts involved a lot of screaming), memories of Grandma cooking crabs flashed before my eyes. Every Chinese New Year, Grandma would make these crab cakes for our reunion dinner. She would heat up a huge steamer, dump a whole bunch of live crabs in, close the lid and weigh it down with a heavy mortar. And you could hear the clickety clack of crab claws as the poor things tried to escape. Horrors! Well, that was Grandma's style. And she is capable of lots of other stuff too. But let's not go there.

So I bought 4 flower crabs and it cost me RM28.25.

Flower Crabs.
I also bought some minced pork. Back home, I left the crabs to defrost further. Meanwhile, I seasoned the minced pork. I was clueless as to how long to to cook the crabs. So I just "agak-agak" (estimated) and boiled them for 25 minutes. A note about my cooking method. A very kind Mrs Lee left me a comment on Quay Po's post and she suggested that I should have steamed the crabs instead.
See how pretty they are!
When the crabs were cool enough to handle, that's when the hard labor began. I had forgotten how time consuming it is to extract the crab meat. An how messy. Back in the day, once in a blue moon, my Dad would buy a bunch of crabs from the fisherman and we would just have crabs for lunch. We would spread newspapers on the dining table and use a pestle to knock the crab claws and legs to get to the meat. By the time I got the hang of it, it was over. No more crabs. I don't even know if I was full because I was so focused on hammering the crabs.

Back to my crab cakes. I added the crab meat (there were some leftovers for my simple lunch) to the minced pork and stuffed them into the shells. And brushed them with egg yolk before steaming for about 25 minutes.

And how did they turn out? Tasted just like Grandma's! Was it worth the effort? Yes and no. Next time, I will look for frozen crab meat (don't buy the ones in cans, they are awful) and fill the crab cakes in small bowls instead. But who knows? By then I would have forgotten about the hard labor and start all over again.

Grandma's Steamed Crab Cakes (Chim Koay)
Ingredients :
- 4 crabs (Steamed and meat extracted)
- 500g minced pork
- 2 big onions (minced)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 tbsp light soya sauce
- pepper (as much as you like)
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp cornflour

- 1 egg yolk (for brushing)

Method :
1. Mix all the above ingredients.
2. Stuff generously into crab shells.
3. Brush with egg yolk.
4. Steam for about 25 minutes or until cooked.
These crab cakes taste great with Grandma' s chilli sauce. Recipe to follow in future post.
Brush with egg yolk.
Ready for steaming.
Grandma's chilli sauce.
Memories of Chinese New Year.
Mmmmm......
I must have this with chilli sauce.
Uuuurrrpppp!!!!!











53 comments:

  1. Hi Phong Hong, thanks for sharing this recipe. I'll definitely try this cos' I can get FOC crabs [my hubby catches mud and flower crabs - his hobby].

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    1. Kimmy, you are so lucky. Hah! Hah! This type of hobby is useful :) Yes, try this crab cake. I'm sure you will like it and make your husband help you peel the crab :)

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    2. I don't trust him to do that cos' sometimes I found little bits of crab shells in the crab meat and got to be extra careful when eating the food, esp.Popiah Chye.

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    3. Wahahaha! Maybe he did that on purpose so that you won't put him on duty.

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  2. Are you going back to work tomorrow? Love the idea of this steamed crab! In Sydney, we normally get blue swimmer crab(because it is white & blue in colour) or mud crab. The caucasian prefer to use blue swimmer crabs(less meat, no roes & cheaper) whereas the asians love mud crab. 2 years ago, my mum was here & it was her birthday, so I bought a 2kg mud crab to make sweet chilli crab & that cram itself has cost me over aud$90 & there was the smallest crabs that I could get. At other timer, we seldom eat crab. In wedding banquets, it is lobster being served as Australia has a large market for lobsters.

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    1. Am back at work today (Tuesday). Those crabs are so expensive, Jessie. Convert to RM - pengsan straight away! Next time when you come back to Malaysia, focus on crabs puas puas before you go back :)

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  3. Wow, your maiden cooking crabs and it turns out to be so beautiful and looking delicious! You must be pleased indeed. I am looking at the photos and I am drooling as I loves to eat crab!!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Mel! So proud of myself, hah..hah...

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  4. I consider stuffed crab cakes a real treat because of the hard labor that goes into it!! Phong, where to get those frozen crab meat.? Jusco got?

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    1. I haven't really checked Jusco but I heard that it is available at Giant. I'll be scouting soon. Too much work lah, must find an easy way to do it :)

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  5. wow.. never ever thought about this :)

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  6. I loved crabs but I never tried cooking it at home because I don't know how to 'kill' crabs and I think I'd be terrified. Anyway, your dish looks so good! Worth the effort.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Veronica. I learnt on TV that the most humane way of killing them is to put them in the freezer. But still.....better to buy them ready processed.

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  7. I have cooked crab only once, years and years ago! Forgotten how I cook it too!
    Yours looks simply delicious! I could slowly enjoy a whole plateful, yum, drooling just looking at it, and the chili sauce too! Delicious!
    And like you, I don't think I can handle live crabs, the fishmonger would simply have to do "the job" for me! And I would the turn other way! hahahahaha!

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    Replies
    1. Well, Joyce, I don't think there will be a repeat preformance from me. I am too lazy to peel the crabs. And do you know, at dinners/lunches, I actually skip the crabs because I don't want to go through all the hammering and digging :)

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  8. hi phong hong, i just made some stuffed crabs too last month but mine was deep fried. I have tried steaming the peeled crab meat in shells like this. It is a very tedious job to peel the crabmeat, i didnt do it, i got the frozen local crab meat too :)

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    Replies
    1. Lena, I agree. It is so tedious, I will be looking for frozen crab meat too. Yah, next time I want to try the deep fried version. I think it will be very delicious.

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    2. oops, what i wanted to say was i have not tried steaming stuffed crab like these. The deep fried version i made will be posted in oct -malaysian food fest:)

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    3. Looking forwards to your post!

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  9. I love crabs but I must make sure they are scrubbed to very clean because I was almost end up in hospital once after eating crabs. But I still eating it and steamed crab cakes look very delicious. Next time please keep some for me, OK!

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    Replies
    1. Ann, I must keep that in mind to scrub them! Sure, next time can reserve for you :) My Mum used to buy the crab cakes from one of the food stalls back home and freeze them for me.

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  10. Admire your effort. This sure looks yummy.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Edith. I guess it was worth the trouble :)

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  11. Aha!!! I love this!!! A lot! And my daughter too! They have very nice ones at a restaurant in Kuching - with cheese. Oooo...those are heavenly, out of this world. Hmmm...I think I will give this a try but I'll wait till my daughter comes home. Will want to cook this for her - guess all parents are the same, eh? Wink! Wink!

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    Replies
    1. Good to know, good to know! Your daughter will love this too. Will be a lot of fun peeling the crabs with her. Agreed, all parents want to share all good things with their children, especially good food!

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  12. Oh, this look super yummy! I wish to try this out but i have hard time to get fresh crabs..my SIL in Kuantan making very good crab cake too.

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    Replies
    1. Sonia, can get fresh ones from Jusco. But I think it is expensive, I dare not buy because I'm scared of live ones. I guess you have to go Kuantan and eat then :)

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  13. Fresh crabs are readily available here in Georgia, and I "used" to make the effort to get them on a regular basis. Our thing here is just to slather them in Old Bay Seasoning and chili powder and steam them into a stupor... after 40 years, I've still not gotten the hang of successfully extracting the meat without shredding my fingers.

    I love that steamed crab cake, though.. I AM going to have to make that trip and get some just to try this, (I drooled the entire time I was reading :))

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    Replies
    1. Hey Toby, that's great! Yeah, you make that trip and you are lucky to be able to get fresh ones. I don't think I want to slave through another round to extract the meat. I was all sweaty and tired by the time I was done :)

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  14. Today's been a great day. I have been catching up on reading my favourite food blogs, and boy! am I a satisfied camper. How about I skip the hardwork, and can I ask you to make me some please? LOL.. okay in return, I will bring you my sweet goodies :P. xoxo

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    Replies
    1. Barter trade, eh Jo? For your cakes and sweet goodies, I am willing to sweat it out!

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  15. Hi Phong Hong, wow... look so delicious and professional like from 5 star restaurant. I have not eaten this crab dish but it sure look good. Wish I'm your neighbor, we can exchange our cooking or baking.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe. Have a nice day, regards.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Amelia, thanks for your compliments. Makes all the hard work worth it!

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  16. steamed crab...hmmm interesting. Have eaten Kemaman stuffed crabs before but they friedn it instead of steaming. Maybe I willtry out your recipe . But then i think most likely will eat the crab directly after steaming LOL...

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    1. Ya lah, in the end no crab meat to stuff the crab shells. I heard that in KT they are selling the stuff crabs at RM10.00 each.

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  17. My favorite seafood! I simply love crabs and these look so delicious! Lots of work indeed!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, Jeannie, a lot of sweat was shed to make this dish :)

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  18. Daphne HL Chua25 October 2012 10:24

    Cuz,
    A great job! Well done.

    Just sharing... My mom would use shallots instead of garlic - which she'd fry till fragrant and use the bawang oil and 'yew-chang' to flavour the crab + mince meat. Also wld add some 5-spice powder.

    Can also add some mince prawns into the mix - giving it sweeter taste.

    This post is making me crave for chim-kuay. Guess time to go crab (meat) hunting too! ;-) ... cant wait till CNY. Hahaha!

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    1. Hello my cousin Hwee Lan! Eh, thanks for the feedback. Yah, I imagine bawang oil makes a lot of difference and the 5-spice powder too. And with prawns, wow, even more luxurious! I will try this the next time I make chim koay. But the thought of peeling the crabs, khar chiu nui!

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    2. Daphne HL Chua29 October 2012 14:04

      Hahaha ... Lucky for me, I have the option of getting peeled crab meat at the wet market. A bit pricey, but works well for me (esp when too lazy to peel the crabmeat). But my parents will definitely frown! Always insist of fresh crabs when making this dish. :-)

      My dad used to buy like a few kilos of crab and steam them and peel them few weeks b4 CNY. Mom would then make chim-kuay when we go back for CNY. Really hats off to him!

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  19. From your blog, I gather you must be a Terengganu girl. So am I and I do reminisce the delicious dishes my grandma used to make. My mother is an equally good cook but unfortunately, it stopped there. Now I am in a desperate hunt for the good food of Terengganu.... esp the kerabus (well, when you're in your 50's, you want to be a little health conscious)
    am trying out the Chim Kuay for this Chinese New Year. My children have never tasted it
    I'm glad I found your blog.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Suat Tian! I am a true blue Terengganu girl and am happy to share our Terengganu cuisine with everybody. Your name is familiar. Are you residing in NZ? Do check out my October 2012 postings as there are many recipes which I posted for the MFF Terengganu Food Fest. Thanks for coming by!

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    2. Hi Phong Hong,
      I studied in NZ, worked in KT for 7 years then returned to NZ for another 7 years before finally settling in Singapore. My ancestral home is the present day Dentist Wee (my cousin) Clinic. I was in SSPS1 and then on to SSSS, same batch as Suat Bin etc
      The Chim Kuay was fantastic, albeit I used frozen crabmeat. Thanks for the recipe. will try it with the real thing so that I can place them in shells instead of bowls.
      Thanks for the lead to your other recipes. Checking it out after this.

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    3. Hi Auntie Suat Tian! I am Dentist Wee's niece. I am his sister's daughter. Hah! Hah! I found another long lost relative through my blog. Small world, eh? I would prefer not to struggle with the crabs but I guess presenting the Chim Koay in crab shells make it more authentic. Happy cooking!

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    4. Yes, I am who you think I am! Apologies, I deleted your comment as I am going incognito at the moment. I am shy about blogging hah! hah! You can look me up on Facebook under Phong Hong. I am glad you found me!

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  20. Ha, ha. For a moment, I had grown senile for I don't have a niece by that name. Phew!
    Anyway, if you want to go incognito, you may have to delete your comment of 15 Feb about being the niece of so&so. He has only one niece why was shy a slowie like me did not take very long to guess.
    I understand about the incognito bit. No worries.
    By the way, prior this long-lost relative bit, I had asked Kheng to visit your website as she is also into cooking. You used to pkay together when you were little.

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  21. Oh yes, I remember playing with Kheng when we were little with Suan Kim and Suan Beng.

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  22. Will continue on FaceBook message

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  23. Phong Hong, should have made your version of this! Used Rasa Malaysia, wasn't quite right, I'm sure yours is more like what we remember Chim Chim making in KT.

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    Replies
    1. Ahah! Must try my grandma's as it would be the closest to the old school recipes. I do miss this chim koay but heh...heh....I still remember how tedious it is!

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