-Cycle 1, Dinner 349-
20 December 2010
Ganjang Gejang (간장게장)
* * *
by my aunt
at their home
To the uninitiated, this probably doesn't look so great, perhaps quite the opposite of great. It's called ganjang gejang (간장게장), raw crabs pickled in soy sauce. That brownish slime in the photo, that's basically what crab flesh looks like when it isn't all cooked and nice and white and fluffy. The orange goo, that's the eggs. Using the shell body as a bowl, much like coastal cavemen would've done, I'd imagine, steaming white rice is plopped into that slime and goo and mixed with a spoon and consumed with savage abandon. The remaining bits, like the legs, are taken with the fingers and inserted into the mouth, shells and all, and crunched down with the teeth to extract whatever slime and goo lurk within, much like coastal cavemen would've done.
In all seriousness, they're pretty good.
The passion that this dish inspires in die-hards is astounding. My wife could eat 2 whole crabs, with 2 bowls of rice, by herself in a single sitting. And then do it again the next day. And the next. And the next. She could go on, but a batch will only last for about 4 days, after which the crabs get kinda putrid--literally--they start smelling like ammonia. She could start over with a new batch, but the dish isn't easy to come by. And expensive. My aunt's culinary claim to fame are these crabs, which she'll make twice a year on the occasions when our family gets together to celebrate the ancestral rites called jesa, a topic that I discussed in a prior post (see 1.021 Jesa Spread). Tonight was one such occasion. As soon as that platter hits the table, the scramble that ensues to secure one of the shell bodies is embarrassing--that is, for grownups who aren't coastal cavemen. From their reaction, I believe this would rate very close to 6 stars on a more objective scale, but personally I'm not a huge fan.