Shell out for ready-peeled crabmeat and use quinoa noodles for an uncomplicated yet cunningly healthy treat. By Sylvia Tan
These crabmeat noodles are bathed in superior stock and infused with umami flavours. Photo: Dios Vincoy Jr / The Straits Times
I confess that the ideas in this recipe are not entirely mine.
I first ate these crabmeat noodles at Mitzo, a stylish and innovative Cantonese restaurant in Grand Park Orchard Hotel in Orchard Road, and so loved the dish that I decided to replicate it.
And I added to the recipe so that it became a noodle dish that I would cook again and again.
Which is one reason why I love eating out, for I get ideas from the food I eat and then build on it to get dishes that I absolutely love.
Now these noodles are truly delicious – how could noodles prepared with crabmeat be other than so? Bathed in superior stock and infused with umami flavours, it is the kind of luxurious carb that one would end a special meal with.
But this dish is also cunningly healthy; the chef adds a deceptively clever crabmeat topping that has egg white in it, stretching the flavour and reducing the cholesterol found in the dish, though dietary cholesterol is not necessarily a bad thing these days. Research has shown that the amount of saturated fat in the diet has a greater effect in raising blood cholesterol than the amount of cholesterol one consumes or dietary cholesterol.
And while the restaurant uses old-fashioned egg noodles for the dish, a no-no for those avoiding carbohydrates, I substitute them with noodles made not from wheat but from quinoa, a high-protein grain much touted as a health food these days.
Going by such literature, quinoa is a good source of plant-based protein, among other things, and is being added increasingly to salads, rice bowls and such.
Furthermore, the noodles are not fried, but poached in a superior stock that cuts down the fat found in the dish.
Yet with its crabmeat topping, it is a dish sophisticated enough to serve to your foodie friends, along with its inherently healthy qualities. What more could you ask from a dish?
Do not be turned off by the various requirements called for in the dish. While they could be complicated if you make everything from scratch, I rely on shortcuts so that it is easy to turn out, without detracting from taste or health benefits.
For one thing, you could make your own superior stock, from crab shells or chicken bones, to poach the noodles with, but I cheat here, relying instead on packaged but organic chicken stock, to which I add dried scallops for extra sweetness.
Again, you could buy live crabs to steam and then peel for their meat – but you might fuss over the small bits of shell you’d probably still find in it. Or you could, like I did, buy ready-peeled pasteurised crabmeat that comes in a tub and tastes so good there really is no need to do it differently.
With such shortcuts, this is a dish you could easily turn out on a whim, my kind of dish really.
RECIPE: QUINOA NOODLES WITH CRABMEAT AND EGG WHITE POACHED IN STOCK
• 1 litre packaged organic chicken stock, salted
• 4-5 dried scallops
• 4-5 bundles of quinoa ramen or 300g spaghetti, available from supermarkets
• 1 tsp chopped garlic
• One 227g tub peeled jumbo crabmeat, available from the fridge section of supermarkets
• 6 egg whites, beaten
• Pinch of salt
• White pepper to taste
• 1 tbsp rice wine
• 1 tsp light soya sauce
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil
Fresh coriander, plucked into little sprigs
• Bring chicken stock and two cups of water to the boil together with dried scallops, and simmer for about half an hour. Keep aside.
• Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. When boiling, add noodle bundles and cook till al dente. Loosen, drain and set aside.
• Beat egg whites till fluffy, season with salt and white pepper.
• Heat vegetable oil in a wok, and fry the chopped garlic till softened but not browned.
• Add the crabmeat and egg white and season with rice wine and light soya sauce, stirring all the while.
• Add stock to the wok and bring all to a light boil. Turn off the fire.
• Place a small serving of noodles on a plate and top with crabmeat and scrambled egg white, then spoon over a ladle of stock.
• Serve at once, garnished with fresh coriander and some sliced red chillies.
Sylvia Tan is a freelance writer and cookbook author. Her previous Eat To Live recipes can be found in two cookbooks, Eat To Live and Taste.
Next: Find out the nutritional content of this dish and how to make it healthier