Cellophane noodles with crabMy family has no problem with multiple carbs at a meal. Rice and potatoes, noodle soup and stir-fried noodles, jasmine rice and sticky rice, spaghetti and rice — bring it on. However, we can't get our heads around eating both sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving. My mother adores sweet potatoes so I'm dumping the mashers. In their place will be a platter of noodles stir-fried with a mess of freshly picked Dungeness crab (their West Coast season just started!). All will be thankful, no one will be crabby.
(Mien xao cua)
Cooked meat and tomalley and fat from a 2-pound Dungeness crab (about ½ pound crab meat and ¼ cup tomalley and fat)
1 tbsp water
1½ tbsp fish sauce
½ to ¾ tsp black pepper, preferably freshly ground
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp canola or other neutral oil
1 large shallot or small yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 dried wood ear mushrooms, reconstituted, stemmed, and cut into 1/8 -inch-wide strips (about ¼ cup)
¼ pound cellophane noodles, soaked in hot water until pliable, drained, and cut into 10-inch lengths
In a bowl, combine the tomalley and fat, egg, water, fish sauce, pepper, and chopped cilantro and mix well. Measure the mixture; you want about 3/4 cup total. Add water if needed.
In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, or until soft. Add the crabmeat and mushrooms and stir-fry for about one minute, or until aromatic. Add the noodles and continue to stir-fry for about 2 minutes, or until they begin to soften. They noodles will look a bit dry.
Give the tomalley mixture a good stir and pour over the noodles. Quickly work the mixture into the noodles to ensure an even distribution of flavors, lowering the heat if the noodles begin to clump. In about 2 minutes, the noodles will become translucent and lightly golden.
Remove from the heat and taste. Adjust with extra sprinkles of fish sauce and/or pepper. Transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately.
Note: if only blue crabs are available, substitute 9 or 10 crabs (3? pounds total) for the Dungeness. If you prefer not to use the tomalley and fat, or if there isn’t any, use 2 eggs instead of 1 egg and increase the fish sauce in step 1 to 2 tablespoons.
Leeks in olive oilI enjoy all of the richness of the Thanksgiving table, but when it comes to heavy sides like the classic, creamy green bean casserole, I'll take a pass and opt instead for silky poached leeks. These are bathed in garlic and olive oil and brightened with fresh cilantro (or if you don't like cilantro, try parsley instead). Every forkful of stuffing and turkey will thank you for allowing it to forego the heavy beans and share company instead with these super-light but ultra-flavorful leeks. Leave it to the Lebanese to make something so healthy and delicious at once.
2 leeks, cleaned and trimmed
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp finely chopped cilantro or parsley
Salt and pepper
Slice the leeks in half, lengthwise, to clean them. Slice crosswise into 2in chunks. In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil to hot but not smoking. Turn down the heat and add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. It's very easy to overcook garlic; you want to barely cook it, just enough to bring out the aroma. Add the cilantro and cook for another 30 seconds. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
In a medium saucepan, bring 8 cups water to boil. Salt the water with 2 tablespoons of salt. Add the leeks to the boiling water and reduce heat to simmer. Poach until the leeks are just tender to bite, about 4 minutes; do not overcook because the leeks will "melt" and fall apart. Taste a leek every minute or so to determine when they are done.
Drain the leeks and add them to the olive oil mixture, stirring gently to coat the leeks completely. Serve immediately, garnished with more cilantro if you like. Recipe serves four.