Crab Story

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

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The side-walking crabs in its various forms in Korea are considered a delicacy. Adding crab to soups or to seafood braised pots increase the value and the taste. Even simple street foods like odeng which are: fish cakes on a skewer and boiled in broth can become a delicacy by just adding a single crab to the broth.

There is even a Korean saying about the potent flavor of crabs: you can eat a whole cow without anyone noticing, but eating even one crab- the whole village will know. What this means is that it is not easy to hide the smell of crab.

Now crab is considered something you offer to special guests but in 940AD, Korean King Gon was offered a giant crab by his subjects. At first the king refused it for it looked unappetizing like a giant spider. But after tasting it, he fell in love with the taste and he sent his subjects on a quest to find the best crabs in his kingdom.

They found that the best crabs in Korea were found on the east coast. The crabs that they found were large crabs that spanned the length of two out-stretched palms. These large Korean crabs have long legs and claws and their tough shells are covered in short black hairs.

Two cities on the east coast of Korea claim that this crab originated there. The crab has been given the distinction "Yeondeok Crab" after the city of Yeondeok, but this is under scrutiny from the neighboring city of Uljin. This has led to animosity between the two
cities and the fishermen.

When the popular Korean drama Daejanggum stated that these black haired crabs were from Yeondeok, citizens from Uljin sent angry letters and protested the TV station that broadcasted the show.

Interestingly, the cities are not far apart so it is possible that the crabs could have walked from one city to the next,. But be sure not to tell the two cities about that.

The cities have a crab festival in honor of the crabs and this often brings people from all over Korea that wish to taste these giant crabs. The crabs are prepared simply steamed. Koreans use scissors instead of hammers to cut through the tough shell to extract the meat. The most sought after crabs are the female crabs that are full of eggs. The leftover insides of the crabs and the rich butter are then used to make a hot and mouthwatering fried rice.

The Korean name for crab is Daegae or "bamboo crab," is because the legs of the crab look like bamboo stalks.

Koreans believe that the crab has 12 different flavors. To best enjoy this crab, Koreans say to first eat the claws and then suck the meat and juice from the legs. The crab is then carefully opened- keeping the juice in the top shell. The juice is mixed with rice, roasted seaweed, and sesame oil to make a delicious crab flavored rice. The insides are then carefully picked out. The shells can then be used to make a delicious soup.

Another Korean crab specialty dish is called Ganjang gyejang (간장게장). These crabs preserved in soy sauce) is a very unique food in the world. Gyejang is called a rice thief because the taste is overwhelmly delicious and salty that it can easily make you eat up all your rice quickly. The special area for this in Seoul is at Sinsa Station.

Finally, One of my favorite dishes is 꽃게탕 (kkotgetang) which is a Korean crab soup. Smaller crabs are boiled in a seafood broth. It is full of crab flavor with a pungent mix of spicy and fresh flavors. The crabs in the soup soak up all this amazing flavor and stay hot so you can take your time as you pick out the meat in the shells. This dish is best in winter when the female crabs are full of eggs and it goes great with a bowl of hot rice.

There are 3 grades of crab: Gold, Green, and Black and they are distinguished by the innards. The gold is the most highly sought for it is the eggs.

Another Korean crab specialty dish is called Ganjang gyejang (간장게장). These crabs preserved in soy sauce) is a very unique food in Korea. Gyejang is called 밥도둑 or rice thief because the taste is overwhelmly delicious and salty that it can easily make you eat up all your rice quickly. The special area for this in Seoul is at Sinsa Station and you can find many restaurants that specialize in this dish.

The seasonings are Korean soy bean paste or doenjang, gochujang: red chili paste, ginger, plenty of garlic and ground red chili pepper.

Here is another proverb that Koreans have about crabs: 마파람에 게눈 감추듯. this means that something is eaten in as if the crabs are hiding their eyes when the wind is blowing from ahead. This is often used when something is eaten very quickly because it is very delicious or the person is very hungry.

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