The strangest thing happened while Ren was preparing this dish.
She was meticulously dicing what was left of the cochinillo asado when, from the corner of her eye, she saw the drain cover in the kitchen sink give a momentary, but definite shake. She walks over to investigate when it quickly starts rattling again, this time continuously and with greater force. Startled, she looks on in disbelief as a tiny shore crab, around four centimeters wide, crawls out from underneath the drain cover and onto the basin.
Pausing for a moment as if to study its surroundings, it scurries over to the pile of unwashed dishes and begins climbing, one plate after another, methodically working its way up and out of the sink. Spotting the bowl of rice Ren had set aside for frying, it slowly makes its way towards it, nimbly navigating through the chaos of freshly chopped vegetables and spices strewn about on the kitchen counter.
Climbing into the bowl, it comes to rest in the middle, its mottled brown body and flat, hairy legs clearly outlined against the bed of white rice. Like a Buddhist monk settling into the Lotus pose, it stays in this position for several minutes, unmoving, before carefully lifting its abdomen to deposit a golden orange sea of crab roe over the steamed Jasmine rice.
Its purpose apparently fulfilled, it climbs down from the bowl and retraces its steps back into the sink. Lifting the cover, it’s about to vanish into the drain when it stops, turns, and stares straight at Ren with its piercingly black, peppercorn-like eyes. Its gaze intense and unwavering, it transmits these thoughts to her telepathically:
“You now possess the secret to this magical dish. If you’re smart, you won’t reveal this to anyone lest others copy it and grow rich from your efforts.”
Replacing the drain, it disappears forever.
Standing dumbfounded for a few moments, Ren is snapped back into reality when Mona, our pug, starts barking at the street sweeper outside. Not one to subscribe to this crab’s mentality, she carries on with her cooking as if nothing happened and shares the recipe anyway.
The fatty richness from the crab roe and cochinillo go perfectly with the refreshingly sweet and spicy cucumber salad. Sprinkle some lemon or lime and you have a fried rice dish that’s truly explosive with flavor.
The fried egg, over hard, added another layer of richness to the dish. If you think that it sounds too rich to the point of being unctuous, it isn’t, thanks to the acidity imparted by the lemon and spicy cucumber salad.
Crab Roe Rice
- 1/4 cup peanut/vegetable/olive oil or butter
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 heaping Tbsps crab roe/fat/paste
- 3 cups day-old cooked white rice
- 1 1/2 cups leftover meat (in this case cochinillo asada)
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
- Fish sauce, to taste
- Fried egg, to serve
- Lemon or lime wedges, to serve
- Ground white pepper, to taste
- Chopped green onions and/or coriander (aka cilantro or wansoy), for garnish
- Heat oil or butter in wok over high heat. Add garlic and onion and stir-fry until fragrant. Add in crab roe/fat/paste and stir-fry for a few seconds. Add rice and stir-fry until well coated.
- Add leftover meat and mix until fully combined. Add in tomatoes and turn off heat. Adjust to taste with fish sauce.
- Serve with fried egg, lemon or lime wedges and sprinkled with white pepper, green onions and/or coriander. Serve with spicy cucumber salad.
Spicy Cucumber Salad
- 1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded, thinly sliced
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, fresh or pickled, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsps rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp water
- 2 Tbsps sugar
- 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 red chili, finely chopped
- 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
- 2 Tbsps coriander/cilantro, chopped
- In small microwaveable bowl, combine vinegar, water and sugar. Microwave on high for around 30 seconds or until sugar dissolves.
- Add in chili garlic sauce, fish sauce, red chili and coriander seeds.
- Place prepared cucumber, onion, jalapeno and coriander in bowl.
- Pour sauce over cucumber mixture.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
DID YOU KNOW?
That a serving of crab roe/fat, which amounts to 1 Tbsp, contains only 40 calories, but 63% of which is fat? Whoa!