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Last Christmas, I gave you protein powder.

How did you celebrate your Christmas and New Year? For the very first time, The Pom and I did absolutely nothing spectacular to celebrate. You see, it is already two weeks into the new year and only now I feel like recouping what we’ve done for the last few weeks, obviously my enthusiasm is palpable, not. I guess we both were still suffering the holiday blues after spending a fabulous time in Jordan and Dubai a week before Christmas. And not to mention the jet lagged, woke up at 3am every night for almost a whole week wasn’t very pleasant.

However, we did managed to catch up with friends over Christmas and Boxing Day lunches, but that’s about it. We decided not to buy each other presents as we already treated ourselves with an overseas trip. Oh the least I could do is to put the Christmas Tree up, I am a sucker for fairy lights. But somehow it just looked kinda odd with no presents under the tree, so eventually I broke the promise and bought The Pom not toys, not iPad, not gadgets, not undies or socks, but a big tub of Whey Protein Powder, wrapped it up and put under the tree. You probably thinking “What the fuck?” and you are quite right there, I was possibly the only person who gave protein powder to someone as Christmas present and it wasn’t even a prank. It was a truly thoughtful present, honest!

As much as we both love our materialism indulgences like everyone else, but for many years now we actually bought christmas presents for the house rather than for ourselves. We both chipped in and bought a vacuum cleaner for the house one Christmas. It might sound boring to some, but we don’t see the point of buying some gadgets or toys that we would only use for a month or so then off they go into the cabinet and never see daylight ever again. And we definitely don’t buy into the idea of getting Christmas present each year that has to be bigger, better and more expensive than last year.

If you think our Christmas was dull, wait till you hear how we spent New Year’s Eve. We stayed at home….

11:00pm – watched The Hobbit while waiting for the midnight fireworks to come on TV,
11.30pm – the movie was so bad that we abandoned it half way through.
12:00am – watched the fireworks on TV that seems to take forever… (oh, wow…..”*yawn*”)
12:15am – “Happy New Year… I am going to bed.”

And then, what did I do on New Year’s Day? I bloody worked! I spent whole day writing recipes for the new cookbook that due in February! Seriously panicking and no rest for the wicked. So apologies in advance if this blog seems a little quiet and abandoned for the next few weeks. But I promise I will try my best to chip in now and again whenever I get a chance. 

chilli-sambal-crab-2

If you haven’t already know, Lunar New Year falls on 31st January this year. As much as I would like to go back to Malaysia to celebrate with the family over a banquet, but it’s not going to happen due to the workload. Sadness. Well, hopefully I will be able to fit in a Chinese meal here with couple of friends just for the occasion. Worse come to worst, I can always just cook a couple of my favourite dishes and celebrate it at home. Not sure I will have time to make Chinese cookies, if anyone feeling generous, send some my way! LOL!

Anyhow, here I would like to share a recipe that I’ve written for the Home & Decor Malaysia magazine with you all; if you love chilli, crab and everything in between, then you will love this Sambal Belachan Mud Crab. It would be a great dish for the Lunar New Year especially in Australia is coming to the mud crab season soon. Just give me some cold beer and a big plate of this baby, I’ll be a happy chap!

I mean, seriously, just look at it!

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Sambal Belachan Mud Crab

Original recipe published in Home & Decor Malaysia Magazine – June issue

Sambal Belachan (makes 300ml)
20g belachan (shrimp paste), toasted
150g shallots
20g dried red chillies, seeded
5 cloves garlic
2 stalks of lemongrass, white part only, finely sliced
20g candlenuts, toasted
15g ginger, thinly sliced
1 cup (250ml) vegetable oil, for frying

1 large fresh or live mud crab (about 1kg) – see note*
1 egg, beaten
120g (1 cup) tapioca starch
3 shallots, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
15g dried shrimps, soaked in water for 30 mins then roughly chopped
60ml (1/4 cup) Shaoxing rice wine
100ml Sambal Belachan (recipe above)
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoon of sugar
1 fresh red chilli, thinly sliced
1 litre of vegetable oil, for deep frying
2 lime wedges
A handful of coriander leaves

1. To make sambal belachan, pound all ingredients except the oil with a mortar and pestle until it forms a fine paste. Alternatively, use a food processor and blend everything together until smooth.

2. Heat oil in a wok on medium-high heat, add the paste and give it a quick stir. Turn heat down to low, and keep frying the paste for another 30 minutes until the sambal is fragrant and dark red brownish in colour. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. To prepare the crab, scrub it well to remove any dirt and algae. Lift the abdomen (the triangle flap) on the underside and pull the top shell off. Remove all the feather-like gills, mouthparts and discard, then clean the shell thoroughly. Pull the claws off, crack them with the back of a cleaver. Chop the crab in half down the centre, then cut each piece in half again. Pat the crab pieces dry thoroughly with some paper towel.

5. Put crab pieces and beaten egg in a large mixing bowl. Stir to mix well, then dip each crab piece into tapioca starch, patting the crab gently until well coated and shake off any excess flour.

6. Heat the 1 litre oil in a wok on high heat until smoking hot, working in batches so you don’t overcrowd the wok, deep fry the crab pieces for about 5 minutes, or until the shells turn red and form a nice golden crispy crust on the outside. Remove from wok and drain on a rack over a tray.

7. Drain the oil from the wok and wipe clean. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil that was used to deep fry the crab in the wok over medium-high heat, add shallot, garlic and dried shrimp, stir fry for a minute until the shallot has soften. Pour Shaoxing rice wine and keep cooking until the liquid has almost dried out, about a minute.

8. Add 100ml of the Sambal Belachan, season well with salt and sugar, stir well until the sugar has dissolved. Add red chilli and mix well. Return the fried crab pieces back to the wok and toss everything together a few times until the crab is nicely coated in the sauce. Pile the crab onto a large serving plate, garnish with coriander leaves and a squeeze of lime juice all over, serve immediately.

Notes:
If using live crabs, make sure you prepare them humanely by putting them to sleep in the freezer for 1 hour beforehand. You can also use blue swimmer crab.
Cut a few extra lime slices and put them in a bowl of cold water for hand cleaning after devouring the crab.
Store the leftover Sambal Belachan in an airtight sealed container and it will keep in the refrigerator for months.