Sunday, March 6, 2011

Alaska King Crab (Wong Dai Hai)....A Feast for Royalty and J. Lo

The Catch of the Day!

It’s Alaska King Crab season in Vancouver.  Thanks to Ben, over at Chowtimes, we have been salivating for days in anticipation of this feast!  This is a very exciting time for folks around these parts.  Some of us wait all year…….it’s right up there with Christmas.

Alaska King Crab season is a short one, usually from about the end of February to the end of March.  Prices at this time are quite reasonable for this delicacy. 
The Chinese restaurants are all advertising specials.  Prices range from as low as $9.99 per pound to upwards of $18.00 per pound in restaurants. When not in season, you can easily pay upwards of $30 per pound.
If you want the nitty gritty of why the variance in price at restaurants, head over to Chowtimes and check out Ben’s post, here.

If you want to try this amazing succulent crab, gather a few of your people (6 is a good number) and make sure you get a crab that is at least 8-10 pounds.  If the crab is too small, the legs will not be meaty enough.
Bigger is definitely better in this case!

Typically, restaurants serve the Alaska King Crab feast 3 ways.
The legs are butter-flied, layered with garlic and steamed until just done.
The body is lightly breaded, deep fried and tossed with garlic and chilies.

These 2 styles represent the whole yin yang thing in Chinese cookery.  The yin,  steamed version allows you to taste the delicate sweet meat of the crab while the yang version, fried and hot and spicy adds the extra zing to the succulent crab meat.  Recipe here.

When enjoyed together ……well it’s like a symphony, a concert performed in perfect harmony, count and counterpart…….all in perfect balance.  Encore, encore will be the soft chant that resonates after this meal!

The shell, while not edible, is often incorporated into the  3rd part of the Alaska King Crab Feast.  This is a fried rice dish, sometimes using the tomalley, topped with a light Portuguese curry sauce and baked in the shell.
The shell adds a delicate but oh so delicious essence to the rice.

At A Wok in the Tuscan Kitchen, our Royal Couple , Wong Dai and Wong How -#14
requested their Alaska King Crab be prepared 4 ways.  If you are wondering why there is such royalty in our midst, let’s just say it has something to do with our trip to China last fall.

When the King and Queen speak, their humble servants spring into action!  Since we are  also celebrating J. Lo’s birthday, noodles are a must…….Wong Dai and Wong How want to ensure J. Lo’s life will be long and prosperous, so instead of a rice dish, Yee Mein (noodles) for long life!
OK, so J Lo is not really Jennifer Lopez.......even better.  JLo is Kerree's better half!

Our 8 pound crab was purchased at T&T for $12.88  per pound.  I really wanted a bigger one, but that was the largest they had this day.  Since it was a Saturday, I knew BR would not be too interested in driving me up and down Number 3 Road.  He doesn't even really like seafood that much......or so I thought.  More on that later.

Well, being that the Alaska King Crab was only 8 pounds...I thought that's not much of a feast.  I could get two, but that is probably excessive....nevermind a bit much for the food budget!  So my little mind went into high gear and I came up with a twist on the feast.

A side by side tasting. Live Dungeness Crab along side Alaska King Crab.
Brilliant right?
So I ended up getting 2 large dungeness crabs at $6.99 per pound.  They weighed in at 8 pounds.  This was working out well.  The number 8 is a very auspicious number according to the Chinese.......with 2 times 8 pounds of very fresh seafood in hand, I ventured out into the parking lot to find BR.  We have a system when it comes to shopping at T&T.......We never attempt shopping here alone.
BR drops me off, wanders away (not really sure where he goes).....I have my allotted shopping time and when I step out of the store...BR drives up and away we go!  Somehow that parking lot puts me in a really bad mood, so we avoid that at all costs.

You might ask why we wouldn’t just go out and have this Alaska King Crab prepared at a restaurant like normal people?…..well At a Wok in the Tuscan Kitchen, that’s just how we roll…and besides, where’s the challenge in just ordering an Alaskan King Crab Feast.
I love to try and recreate dishes I have had in restaurants.

Bring on the culinary challenge! It feels so good when things turn out.
Another reason for dining in is, we find it much more relaxing to enjoy a meal at home with friends…..  without the chaos of a busy restaurant and ya………..OK the real honest to goodness truth…….the wine flows  freely too!

There is little information around on how to cook Alaska King Crab, especially the “Chinese Way”…so I am going to break this up into parts for blogging purposes. Each preparation will be a separate post and will have full recipes and hints with step by step instruction on how to cook Alaska King Crab and also Live Dungeness Crabs.

Presented today…..our menu with photos and descriptions of our Alaska King Crab Feast………
Recipes and instructions to follow soon in future posts.
You will have to check back to see what our panel of judges had to say about the side by side tasting too.
For now, a little food porn for you!

Our starters, while we contemplated our Crab Feast:

Clams, sauteed in Thai Spices and Chilis

I had to also have something non seafood for BR, since he declared he is not too much of a fan.

Deep Fried Garlic and Chili Chicken Wings

JLo prefers wings naked.  Deep fried and tossed with Louisiana Hot sauce, so we had some of those too!
Oh...and BR has decided that Seafood isn't fact he enjoyed all of it.  Look at his pile of clam shells.

OK...onto the Featured event!

Soon to be part of a Four-way!

1.  Steamed Alaska King Crab with garlic (Chinese style).  Get the recipe here.

Steamed Alaska King Crab in garlic sauce garnished with crispy fried garlic and scallions

Dressed with Garlic Sauce waiting to go into the Steamer

2. Steamed Alaska King Crab with Egg Custard…….an original from A Wok in A Tuscan  Kitchen.  

Alaska King Crab Steamed on a Delicate Egg Custard

My Alaska King Crab with Egg Custard is inspired by the many variations of savory Egg Custartd dishes we had during our vacation in China.
This dish was absolutely amazing.  Our judges gave me several awards for this one! Check back for the recipe.

 …..OK, must also give credit to the CRA (Chinese Restaurant Awards).  I saw this from the photo stream on flicker

 See all the the other CRA award winning dishes here.

3. Fried Garlic and Chili Alaska King Crab (hot and spicy).  Get Recipe here

Deep Fried Chili and Garlic Alaska King Crab

4. Yee Mein (noodles) braised 2 ways with Alaska King Crab Sauce 

The Sauce from Dish #1

Yee Mein Braised with Alaska King Crab Sauce Version 1

Chili and Garlic from Dish #3

Yee Mein braised in Alaska King Crab Sauce (hot and spicy), Version 2

Here are the Dungeness Crab versions of our menu

Dungeness Crab Steamed with Garlic Sauce

Deep Fried Dungeness Crab with Chili and Garlic

Our wine of choice was a BC VQA Wine from the Okanagan.

Dirty Laundry, 2009 WOO WOO, Gewurztraminer

This was the perfect pairing to our Crab feast.  This wine was crisp and luscious.  The underlying notes of lychee fruit complemented our Alaska King Crab Feast perfectly.

So my final thoughts about our Alaska King Crab Feast. 

The results were amazing.  Each dish had it's own stand out qualities.
It does take time to prepare, but what's the rush?  We are enjoying this life and savoring every minute.
It was so good, it has converted BR into a seafood lover.
It was worth every minute of preparation and cooking.

Our judges reactions were extremely favorable.  Many times through the course of this meal, the only audible  sounds were loud licking, slurping and sucking real coherent words were expressed, just moans of enjoyment and joy
.....Think Meg Ryan, in When Harry Met was that good!

Please come back for the recipes to see how you can cook this wonderful meal yourself.
I think I even impressed myself with this one!  You have got to experience this meal.

What the heck, in case you don't get the reference about Meg Ryan, check out this's a classic.


  1. Wow, absolutely fantastic looking meal. Thumbs up on the AKC egg custard. That is an unique idea which never crossed my mind. My mouth is watering already!

  2. Hi Eric,
    Thanks for commenting.
    The AKC Egg Custard was the surprise hit of the evening. It was the perfect way to appreciate the delicate, succulent meat of the AKC. The true freshness and sweetness of the beautiful crab really came shining through in this preparation and egg custard on rice....always a favorite!

  3. The food looks amazing. The taste must be amazing too. If you just look at the food pictures without reading the text, you'll think this dinner was in a restaurant. The food prep and cooking were restaurant quality. Did you use to be a chef? Actually if you decide to start a Chez Joy underground kitchen, I'll be one of the first ones to sign up. BR is so lucky to be married to you.

  4. Hi Crispy......thanks for the encouraging comment!
    I'm not a chef, but love to cook and eat! I think I was gifted with a pretty discerning palate.
    One of my greatest pleasures is dissecting the flavors of restaurant dishes and trying to create them in my own kitchen.

    I'm lucky too in that that BR enjoys my experiments.
    A Wok in the Tuscan Kitchen is already quite a popular dining spot, so I doubt that an underground kitchen will happen, but thanks for your vote of confidence :-)

  5. Wong Dai the 14thMarch 6, 2011 at 10:43 PM

    A feast fit for royalty INDEED!
    We are blessed to have you amongst our court.

  6. A big thank-you to the Chef for the Royal Court. And to the wonderful company of our Royal Subjects in attendance for this most auspicious crab feast. The AKC on custard now needs to be served at annual event during AKC season...that's what happens when you create an award-winning dish!

  7. Looks really Royal. Hope you post the recipes soon, so I can try and copy it. :) BR eating clams! I better go and buy a lotto ticket.

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