First a Steam Bath, Then Yeongdeokge Goes Into the Soup

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First a Steam Bath, Then Yeongdeokge Goes Into the Soup

Fresh yeongdeokge tastes best when minimally seasoned.

When serving the crab steamed, try preparing it with a dipping sauce, such as soy sauce mixed with a little mustard, vinegar or sesame oil.

How to Prepare Steamed Yeongdeokge:

1. The crab must be dead before it is cooked. The wild movement you prompt in crabs if you attempt to steam them alive may make their legs fall off and allow their internal juices to flow out of the body. Be cruel to be kind - hold the crab in lukewarm water until it drowns.

2. Scrub the body and legs in running water using a coarse sponge.

3. Place the crab belly-up in a bamboo sieve to prevent internal liquid from escaping. Steam it over a large pot. Salt is unnecessary as crabs already contain sodium. To remove any fishy odors, pour in about a half cup of beer or jeongjong (rice wine).

4. Do not remove the lid until the crab is thoroughly cooked. Immediately after steaming the crab meat will have turned to liquid and should be left to cool and firm. Letting the steam out causes the liquid meat of the body to flow into the legs.

5. Serve the crab with dipping sauces and scissors for easy dismembering. The sharp pincers can be used as a handy tool to get at meat in hard-to-reach corners.

This simple Korean-style recipe offers a light and spicy zest to complement the fresh crab meat.

How to Prepare Korean-style Crab Stew or Jjim:

Ingredients: About 5 cups of the water from the pot over which the crab was steamed, 4 tablespoons (or more) of red pepper powder, 3 cloves of fresh garlic (thinly sliced), 1 teaspoon of whole peppercorns, several stems of fresh minari (water fennel) cut into lengths of about 5-10 centimeters, 1 tablespoon of roasted sesame seeds and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil (optional).

1. Cut off a small portion of the crabs' leg tips so that the soup can reach and marinate the crab meat inside.

2. In a large, shallow pan, add the water remaining in the steaming pot, and put in two medium-sized cooked crabs.

3. Add the red pepper powder, garlic and peppercorns, and slowly bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the crab meat is thoroughly marinated and cooked.

4. Right before serving, add several stems of fresh minari so that the herb remains bright green and crisp. Add roasted sesame seeds and optional oil.

5. Serve the crab with the soup and vegetables.

by Ines Cho

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