Five Spice Dungeness Crabs

It’s been so crazy with work lately that I haven’t had much time to do any cooking.  I’ve been asked to hurry up and post more recipes so I’m going to rock this return with some crustacean!  Here’s a recipe I created on the fly so my measurements may be a little off.  It’s all ‘to taste’ anyway so if you’ve got a rich palate, then you’re good to go.  This crab dish infuses more Asian flavors using five spices, ginger, garlic, and fish sauce.

The worst part of it all was preparing the crabs… yikes!  I don’t know about you but the thought of killing these guys and ripping them apart while their separated claws are still twitching in your hands just freak me out.  So, who do you call??  The Matador!  For you folks who don’t have a Matador to call on, here are some instructions:

Some recipes will call for crabs which have been “livebacked”, that is, cleaned while still alive. Livebacked crabs are used for charcoal grilling, stir-frying, or as an addition to soups and stews.
First, place the crab on its back and hold it in place with a large cleaver or french knife positioned on the center-line of the crab between the two sets of legs.  Strike the cleaver a sharp blow with a rubber mallet or similar tool; chopping the crab in half and killing it instantly.

Pull off the triangular shaped apron from the underside of the crab. Turn the two halves of the crab over and pull off the top shell. Now the gills (clear feathery fingers situated just above the legs), the intestine (a firm white crooked piece in the center of the back), and the beaklike mouth parts are exposed.

Remove and discard these parts. Reserve any yellow fat known as crab butter from inside the shell, it makes a wonderful enrichment for a dipping sauce.  Rinse the two cleaned halves of crab. Slice each half of the crab into 5 sections by cutting through the body between each leg.  Now you have 10 legs with a body section connected to each piece. Crack each section of each leg with a mallet or the handle of a heavy knife.

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Garlic Shrimp

Mmmm… I love me some shrimp!  I can have shrimp all day long.  One of my favorite ways of preparing shrimp is stir frying them with garlic and fish sauce.  Delicious!  Give me a bowl of steamed rice with some shrimp and gravy nicely drizzled on top and I’m set.  This was one of four dishes I prepared one night for a family dinner and it was the first to go.

I don’t really have a recipe as I just eyeballed everything but I’ll try to include a guestimate below so you have some baseline to go by.



  • 2 lbs. of peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 2 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp of sugar for browning
  • ½ tsp of black pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 10 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp of vegetable oil

Preparation Instructions:


Place shrimp in a bowl and add sesame oil.  Slice garlic and onion and set aside.  Heat up a pan with vegetable oil and brown the sugar.  Once brown, throw in the garlic and onions and cook for about a minute or two.  Add shrimp and stir so that every shrimp is coated – add fish sauce and pepper and continue to stir. Cook for about 4-5 minutes (you don’t want to overcook the shrimp) and add the green onions.  Transfer to serving platter.  Serve with steamed rice.

Black Pepper Beef

This dish isn’t exactly like the traditional Chinese Black Pepper Beef with the stir fry onions and sometimes bell peppers.  At first glance, it appears to look more like the Vietnamese Bo Luc Lac (Shaking Beef) because the beef is cubed and not sliced and is served with a watercress salad.  It’s sort of a hybrid of the two but super easy to put together for a quick meal.  What’s most important is the cut of beef you use which should always be tender filet, otherwise you’ll be chewing for days.

I like to use Lee Kum Kee’s Black Pepper Sauce marinade – it’s got peppercorn in it and tastes close to the flavors you’ll find in Chinese restaurants.  I would normally stir fry yellow onions in with the beef but with the watercress salad, I chose to keep the onions sweet, separate and crunchy.

One of these coming weeks I’ll post recipes for the true black pepper beef and bo luc lac… for now, here’s the hybrid:


For beef:

  • 1-1/2 pound beef fillet steak (cut into cubes or sliced if preferred)
  • 1 large white onion – sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 3 tbsp of black pepper sauce (I use Lee Kum Kee’s)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp of sugar

For watercress:

  • 2 bundles of watercress
  • ½ cup of rice vinegar
  • ½ cup of sesame oil
  • ½ tbsp of sugar or 1 tbsp of corn syrup
  • salt to taste

Preparation Instructions:Cut beef tenderloin into thin slices or cubes, whichever you prefer.  I like mine cubed sort of like the Vietnamese Bo Luc Lac because I like my beef medium rare.  Sliced beef cooks too fast.  Combine beef, sesame oil, sugar, and black pepper sauce in a bowl and stir well. Cover, marinate for several hours or refrigerate overnight. Cut and wash watercress and set aside to drain.  In the meantime, make the dressing for the watercress.  Combine the sesame oil, rice vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar into a bowl and stir well.  Toss the  watercress with the dressing and set aside. To cook, heat up a pan with some olive oil and stir-fry steak the steak until it’s plumped up and bouncy.  Prepare a plate with the watercress, tomatoes and onions – when the beef is cooked to your liking, transfer to plate onto the onions.  Served hot with steamed rice or if you’re counting your carbs, just have the beef and watercress as a salad.

Mini Egg Breakfast Biscuit

We live in a  society where everything that is big is better.  From the more-for-your-money supersized meals to the gas-hoarding monster trucks that like to side-swipe me on the freeways – we forget that sometimes, less is more.  Today, let’s pay tribute to the ‘less is more’ concept.  Meet the simple no-fuss bite-sized breakfast sandwich… or the morning edition of its ‘slider’ brother if you will.


For Biscuits:

  • 1/2 stick of butter (2 ounces)
  • 2 cups of self-rising flour
  • 3/4 cup of milk (you will probably not need all of the milk)
  • Quail eggs (for however many biscuits you are making)
  • Sliced Swiss cheese
  • Italian dry salami

Instructions / Preparations

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Put the flour and the butter in a large bowl
  3. Using your bench scraper, cut the butter into the flour. The crumbs should be about pea size.
  4. Slowly add the milk and mix it into the dough
  5. As soon as the dough is smooth and pulls away from the bowl, stop adding the milk and turn the dough out onto a floured workbench. You can use all-purpose flour to flour the work surface
  6. Knead the dough for about five minutes until it is very smooth
  7. Roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thick
  8. Using a floured 2-inch round cutter, press straight down into the dough and then give the cutter a slight twist and remove the biscuit from the dough.
  9. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet
  10. If you want a deeper golden color, you can wash the biscuits with cream.
  11. Bake for 10 minutes or until done.
  12. Pull in half with your hands (they pull apart very easily, you don’t need a knife)
  13. Cut the sliced Swiss cheese with the same round cutter
  14. Place cheese onto biscuit half
  15. Fold a slice of salami onto the cheese
  16. Fry quail eggs on lightly oiled pan (they cook very fast – 60 seconds or so)
  17. Transfer fried egg onto salami – sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired

Chocolate and Raspberry Wonton Parcels

Do you ever get a sweet tooth and start scrambling around the kitchen looking for anything remotely sweet to curb the craving?  That was me.  Sadly, there was nothing remotely sweet laying around except for a jar of granulated sugar.  The thought had crossed my mind, trust me… but what kind of barbaric sucrose chaser would I have been??  What was a girl to do?  Google.  Google is the answer to everything.  I started searching for quick-and-easy dessert recipes as I wanted my sweets and I wanted it now! Then! Whenever this was!  Scroll… scroll… scroll… “Chocolate and Raspberry Wonton Parcels” – what?  Mixing Nutella with raspberries and encasing them in wonton… genius!  To make a short story shorter, I ventured to World Market for some Nutella and stopped by the local grocerer for some fresh berries and wonton.  Result - warm and crispy cholocatey raspberry yumminess!

We made these for some friends some night ago.  A few minutes later I came back with the second batch to replenish only to find just a few traces of confectioners sugar.  Easy crowd to please!