iPhoneOgraphy – 26 Dec 2016 (Day 361/366)
Crabs are decapod crustaceans of the infraorder Brachyura, which typically have a very short projecting “tail” (abdomen), usually entirely hidden under the thorax. They live in all the world’s oceans, in fresh water, and on land, are generally covered with a thick exoskeleton and have a single pair of claws. Many other animals with similar names – such as hermit crabs, king crabs, porcelain crabs, horseshoe crabs, and crab lice – are not true crabs.
Crabs are generally covered with a thick exoskeleton, composed primarily of calcium carbonate, and armed with a single pair of chelae (claws). Crabs are found in all of the world’s oceans, while many crabs live in fresh water and on land, particularly in tropical regions. Crabs vary in size from the pea crab, a few millimetres wide, to the Japanese spider crab, with a leg span of up to 4 metres (13 ft).
About 850 species of crab are freshwater, terrestrial or semi-terrestrial species; they are found throughout the world’s tropical and semi-tropical regions. They were previously thought to be a monophyletic group, but are now believed to represent at least two distinct lineages, one in the Old World and one in the New World.
The earliest unambiguous crab fossils date from the Jurassic, although Carboniferous Imocaris, known only from its carapace, may be a primitive crab. The radiation of crabs in the Cretaceous and afterward may be linked either to the break-up of Gondwana or to the concurrent radiation of bony fish, crabs’ main predators.
Crabs often show marked sexual dimorphism. Males often have larger claws, a tendency which is particularly pronounced in the fiddler crabs of the genus Uca (Ocypodidae). In fiddler crabs, males have one claw which is greatly enlarged and which is used for communication, particularly for attracting a mate. Another conspicuous difference is the form of the pleon (abdomen); in most male crabs, this is narrow and triangular in form, while females have a broader, rounded abdomen. This is because female crabs brood fertilised eggs on their pleopods.
Crabs are prepared and eaten as a dish in several different ways all over the world. Some species are eaten whole, including the shell, such as soft-shell crab; with other species, just the claws and/or legs are eaten. The latter is particularly common for larger crabs, such as the snow crab. Mostly in East Asian cultures, the roe of the female crab is also eaten, which usually appears orange or yellow in fertile crabs.
In some regions, spices improve the culinary experience. In Southeast Asia and Indosphere, masala crab and chili crab are examples of heavily spiced dishes. In the Chesapeake Bay region, blue crab is often eaten with Old Bay Seasoning. Alaskan king crab or snow crab legs are usually simply boiled and served with garlic or lemon butter.
For the British dish Cromer crab, the crab meat is extracted and placed inside the hard shell. One American way to prepare crab meat is by extracting it and adding a flour mix, creating a crab cake. Crabs are also used in bisque, a global dish of French origin.
Imitation crab, made from minced fish products that are crafted to resemble crab meat, is disdained throughout the culinary industry as an unacceptably low-quality substitute for real crab. This does not hinder its popularity in Japan (where it originated) and in home cooking, where cost is often a chief concern.
iPhoneOgraphy – 03 Dec 2016 (Day 338/366)
Pan mee (Chinese: 板麺, pronounced as ban mian) is a Hakka-style noodle, originating from Malaysia. Its Chinese name literally translates to “flat flour noodle”. It is part of Malaysian Chinese cuisine.
The dough is made from flour (sometimes egg is added for more flavor). Traditionally, the dough is hand-kneaded and torn into smaller pieces of dough (about 2 inches). Nowadays, the dough can be kneaded using machine into a variety of shapes, the most common shape being flat strips of noodle.
Pan mee is typically served in soup, together with dried anchovies, minced pork, mushrooms, and a leafy vegetable such as sweet potato leaves or sayur manis (sauropus androgynus). It can also be served dry with a thick black soya sauce (also known as dried pan mee). Other serving styles include curry broth, chili-based broth, and pork belly.
The soup plays a very important role in the preparation of pan mee. Typically, the soup is prepared by boiling pig bones and dried anchovies for hours in order to bring out the flavor. In the case of curry broth, a diluted form of curry is used.
Dry chilli pan mee is also becoming popular, especially in the Klang Valley. This dry noodle is served with minced pork, fried onions, anchovies, and topped with a poached egg which is stirred into the noodles. The most important part of the dish is the dry chilli mix (or sambal) which is served with it. Those with a strong tolerance for chillies often add several spoonfuls of the chilli to the noodles, though most are content with one spoon of the fiery chilli.
Pan mee is typically eaten for breakfast, but it is widely available and commonly eaten for lunch and dinner as well. In Malaysia, one can find pan mee at hawker stalls, restaurants, and shopping malls offering Chinese cuisine. The price may vary, depending on the location of the restaurant or eatery. It usually costs less at hawker stalls but can cost more at restaurants, shopping malls, commercial and developed areas. This is due to tax, profit margins and the availability of the ingredients.
iPhoneOgraphy – 26 Oct 2016 (Day 300/366)
Dim sum (simplified Chinese: 点心; traditional Chinese: 點心; pinyin: Diǎnxīn; Sidney Lau: dim2sam1) is a style of Chinese cuisine (particularly Cantonese but also other varieties) prepared as small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Dim sum (a transliteration of the Cantonese) dishes are famous for the unique way they are served traditionally whereby fully cooked, ready-to-serve dishes are pushed on carts around the restaurant for diners to select without leaving their seats.
Dim sum is usually linked with the older tradition from yum cha (drinking tea), which has its roots in travelers on the ancient Silk Road needing a place to rest. Thus, teahouses were established along the roadside. An imperial physician in the third century wrote that combining tea with food would lead to excessive weight gain. People later discovered that tea can aid in digestion, so teahouse owners began adding various snacks.
The unique culinary art dim sum originated with the Cantonese in southern China, who over the centuries transformed yum cha from a relaxing respite to a loud and happy dining experience. In Hong Kong, and in most cities and towns in Guangdong province, many restaurants start serving dim sum as early as five in the morning. It is a tradition for the elderly to gather to eat dim sum after morning exercises. For many in southern China, yum cha is treated as a weekend family day. More traditional dim sum restaurants typically serve dim sum until mid-afternoon. However, in modern society, it has become commonplace for restaurants to serve dim sum at dinner time; various dim sum items are even sold as take-out for students and office workers on the go.
A traditional dim sum brunch includes various types of steamed buns such as cha siu bao (a steamed bun filled with barbecue pork), dumplings and rice noodle rolls (cheong fun), which contain a range of ingredients, including beef, chicken, pork, prawns, and vegetarian options. Many dim sum restaurants also offer plates of steamed green vegetables, roasted meats, congee and other soups. Dessert dim sum is also available and many places offer the customary egg tart. Dim sum is usually eaten as breakfast.
Dim sum can be cooked by steaming and frying, among other methods. The serving sizes are usually small and normally served as three or four pieces in one dish. It is customary to order family style, sharing dishes among all members of the dining party. Because of the small portions, people can try a wide variety of food.