I am not a big fan of crabs. There is something lethal and unattractive about their pincers. And maybe it’s my imagination, but I see malevolence in their beady dark eyes. Moreover, my father tends to get crabby too, with his Cancerian personality.
Naturally, I had no idea what was in store for me today when I boarded the 61 Express bus to Sooke after lunch. It was time to visit an old family friend.
Her name is Ruma Roy, and she lives in a quaint little log house in Sooke, a small town about one and a half hour away from Victoria downtown. She and my mother have been friends since their air-hostess days at Indian Airlines.
When you usually see old friends after a long, long time (in this case, nearly 3 years had passed since her visit to Toronto), they absolutely insist on feeding you.
“I am cooking some crabs for you,” she announced.
I had been vaguely aware of her conversation with mom regarding the “menu” of this feast. Being ignorant of the ways of cooking crabs- since I clearly steer clear of them- I had assumed she would be cooking some dead, frozen crabs for dinner. But when her neighbour, Cindy, dropped off a case of large writhing crabs at her place, I went into mild shock.
“You are going to cook those?” I asked with incredulity interlaced with my question.
“Of course. Watch!”
With a sharashi (or, Indian tongs), she picked one up and dangled it in the air.
“You must cook them directly in hot water. If someone gave me a dead crab, I would throw it away. You can get E. Coli.”
And with that, she dumped it upside down in the already boiling water in the pot.
I cringed. For a second, I imagined being boiled alive.
“Don’t worry. They die within 30 seconds.”
Apparently, crab cooking has some easy steps to keep in mind.
- They must be alive and kicking.
- They must be dumped upside down in a pot of boiling water so that they die quickly, with as little fuss as possible.
- They must be boiled for atleast 6-7 minutes.
- They must be washed in cold water in order to maintain their tart brick-red colour.
Not that being a crab cooking pro makes it any easier for me to think of cooking them.
Apart from the delicious crabs (and trust me, they were; I ate guilt free), she had also made shrimps with quinoa seeds (substitute for wheat/rice), and baked salmon and halibut with vegetables.
Heaven must be this way, I thought as I broke into a crab leg. With lots of good food.
Definitely, a supper to remember.
Photo credits and copyright: Sanchari Sur, unless otherwise stated.