5.062 Ginger Crab

-Cycle 5, Item 62-
8 (Sat) March 2014

Ginger Crab


at Seafood Market

-Ermita, Manila-

with CS Hahm, Lee YH

As previously noted, when the Korean staff at the World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific host a dinner party for guests from Korea, Seafood Market is the default venue, where the choice of dishes has been enshrined in an SOP spreadsheet that even calculates portions (see generally (4.263 Parros Clams in Spicy Black Bean Sauce).

At the latest such dinner (see 5.059 Sweet & Sour Lapu Lapu), I must've been grumbling a bit too loud about Korean culinary dogmatism, because the responsibility of ordering at the next function was suddenly dumped in my lap, dared to improve upon the tried and true.  Admittedly, it won't be easy, because the system does work; most of the dishes on the list are excellent.  What I'm saying is that, having clearly established the capacity of the cooks to produce the goods, let's trust them to surprise us with something new and exciting.  

I've never seen so many customers, mostly tourist groups from Korea, China, Japan.

Unfortunately, the circumstances of this evening's quick return didn't allow me to experiment very much.  For one thing, my uncle had deigned to slum it in my part of town expressly to try those established dishes at Seafood Market, which I'd been telling him about.  Also, YH's parents are flying in later tonight for a week-long visit with their daughter, who's been scrambling to scout out restaurants to take them to, so she wanted to sample the reliable dishes in advance.  And we were only three people.  As such, I was pretty much stuck to the SOP--I'm beginning to understand why it's SOP.

The ginger crab wasn't that great.  First, the crab itself didn't have much meat.  And the shells of the local mud crabs here are so hard, even the parts close to the body, that chewing them to get at bits of flesh in the crevices, like say with dungeness crab, is impossible.  Second, instead of deep-fried pieces stir-fried in a gingery gravy as I'd been expecting--as per Cantonese tradition, as this establishment generally tends to follow--the pieces had been braised in a watery broth with big chunks of ginger.  So, this dish won't be among the "new and exciting" items that I'll be debuting soon enough.