Friday, September 2, 2016

Stir-Fried Krab and Celery

My grandmother used to make this dish - a simple, inexpensive stir-fry of artificial crab (aka "Krab") and celery, seasoned with a light sauce of chicken stock, sesame oil, white pepper, and a little cornstarch for thickening. I'm not sure if she invented this or if it's some iteration of a dish that's in the annals of Taiwanese cuisine. But, who cares - at least I don't. All I know is that it's good eats cuz my Ah-ma made it. 

I actually like Krab because I've always treated it like a flaky fish cake (which it is), used it in recipes accordingly, and nevah evah when there simply is no substitute for the real deal. It's a nice flavor enhancer for hot pots and soups (I use it in my soup base for a Taiwanese-style noodle soup and also for a Korean-style tofu stew). It's also a great addition to salads and, as in this case, stir-fried dishes. 

1 1/2 lbs. artificial "Krab," flake style
3-4 stalks of celery, cut into 2" strips or along the bias
3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 cup water
1 tsp. chicken base/powder
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. sesame oil

1. Combine all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl or measuring cup. Stir well and set aside.

2. Add 1 tbsp. vegetable oil to a skillet or wok and heat over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and saute for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the celery and stir-fry for another minute until combined. 

3. Add the Krab pieces (they are usually stuck together in the package, so just break them apart into large pieces with your hands); toss, cover, and cook over medium heat until the Krab is tender and the celery crisp-tender (don't overcook the celery). 

4. Turn up the heat and add the sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil and when thickened, immediately remove from the heat. Plate and serve with steamed white rice.

Since the celery stalks are on the thick side, I slice each one lengthwise into 3 long strips, then cut into 2" sections. Another way to cut the celery is into 2" sections along the bias (about 1/8" wide). A bias cut is probably better - more tender and less stringy than just cutting them into strips. 

Saute the garlic in 1 tbsp. oil for a few seconds until fragrant.

Add the celery and toss briefly, about 1 minute, to coat.

Add the Krab pieces and stir well.

Cover and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the Krab is tender and the celery still crisp-tender.

Add the sauce ingredients and bring to a boil.

As soon as sauce has thickened, turn off the heat and plate. Serve with steamed white rice.

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