Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Recipe: Soft Shell Crab with Tamarind Glaze

Soft shell crab is in season!

Now is the time for soft shell crab! It's easy to make, delicious, and a fast dish for the summer. The best soft shell crab usually comes from Maryland and is only $3-$5 a piece from your local seafood market and is seasonal and fresh. You can lightly sear it with butter and garlic or olive oil, or you can use my signature dish we feature at Saffron 59. It is one of the traditional recipes that I made while I lived in Saigon, Vietnam.

To prepare the crab, simply remove the gill and the claws. Then egg wash- flour, beaten egg
add panko crust then sear each side for 2 minutes

For the sauce,
small chunk of dried tamarind, soaked with 1/2 cup of warm water
then you squeeze the pulp and seeds out to get the juice (set aside)
brown the shallots and add the tamarind juice
season with fish sauce, sugar, salt and pepper
bring to a boil

Spoon the sauce over the crab then garnish with fresh slivers of scallion and enjoy!

Travel: Affordable Eastern Europe

Before our busy season starts in June, with all the weddings we have here at Saffron 59, I took a two week trip to visit close family in Budapest, Hungary with a side trip to Transylvania, Romania. It was a fruitful and relaxing trip, with its wonderful eco-tourism, affordable and clean accommodations with local families, and the fresh, seasonal vegetables we had from the remote farmland and mountainous region of the Eastern Carpathian.

During my trip to Hungary, I tasted many Tokaji wines, proclaimed to be "the king of wines" by Louis XIV of France. Named from the region it hails f
rom, Tokaji-Hegyalja in Hungary, this region is known for producing sweet, flavorful wines because the grapes have been affected by noble rot- which is what occurs when the weather is wet and begins to rot the grapes. When picked at the perfect timing, the grapes produce a fine and concentrated sweet wine. With over 700 vineyards in that region alone producing this wine, I highly recommend tasting it at your local wine shop.

In Budapest, I stayed at the Lanchid 19, known for being a "hip", boutique hotel. With its affordable $139 a night rooms, modern design, and great location over-looking the Danube river, it was the perfect accommodation to top off my trip.

Then, on my trip to Romania, we went to Transylvania and saw the house where Dracula was born. This mountainous area, made famous by the book Dracula by acclaimed author Bram Stoker, has now become the setting for many horror and vampire movies because of the eerie, gothic feel of the area and is now an excellent tourist location.