The most succulent crab is the swimming crab, says Kimio Tomura, owner of a Japanese restaurant.
Since the female carries egg in early summer and the male grows fat in early fall, the crab is in season twice a year.
Using one's hand to eat freshly-boiled crab with seasoned rice is a real treat.
The swimming crab had been a familiar delicacy until environmental changes set off by postwar development reduced its catch. Serves four.
2 “go” (total of 360 ml) rice
2 female swimming crab (watari-gani) carrying roe
20 grams spring ginger (shin-shoga)
10 Japanese honeywort (ito-mitsuba)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp light soy sauce
Crab shell dashi stock (1 liter water, 100 cc sake)
Steam crab a day ahead. Open triangle part of abdomen, place 1 tsp salt inside and close.
Place crab in steaming steamer, put lid on and cook for 20 minutes over high heat. When cool, put in fridge overnight.
Rinse rice and drain. Remove triangle opening and shell and spoon out roe.
Cut off legs with kitchen knife. Cut body in two, halve thickness. Pick out meat with fingers, removing cartilage.
Place crab shell, water and sake in pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove scum, reduce heat and cook for about 10 minutes. Strain through paper towel and cool.
Peel ginger, cut into 2-mm dices and immerse in water. Change water once. Drain. Briefly boil mitsuba, immerse in water and cut into length of 7-8 mm.
Add appropriate amount (preferably a little more than usual for softer finish) of crab dashi stock to rice, add salt and soy sauce and cook. When done, place ginger, crab meat and roe on top of rice and let steam. Mix in mitsuba just before eating.
From the Asahi Shimbun's KashikoiOkazu column
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