Nowadays, the crab bologna has become a very familiar dish to foreign diners who love Vietnamese cuisine. A variety of names of crab paste, such as Sa Dec crab bologna, paddy crab bologna, sea crab bologna, and Hue crab bologna can easily be found on the menus of popular restaurants, meals of families or at take-away shops at famous tourist areas in Hue, Dong Thap, and Hanoi. In the 2013 Golden Spoon Awards, Chef Khau Van Duong (Rex Hotel) used his outstanding skills to create a special dish that combines the crab bologna and the five-color sticky rice. The Vietnamese believe that the five-color sticky rice represents the Five Element Theory (Wood – Fire – Earth – Metal – Water); it also represents the wishes of our ancestors to be forever wealthy by praying for good weather and harvest. Therefore, on special occasions, such as ancestor veneration, or the Lunar New Year, almost every family makes this dish to show respect to their ancestors as well as to serve their guests. The complex texture of the dish created by combining those familiar ingredients shows the passion of the cook. By serving this dish, the Vietnamese honor the strenuousness and the patience of the farmer and, moreover, thank Mother Nature for giving them such valuable natural resources and a wealthy life.
CRAB BOLOGNA WITH FIVE-COLOR STICKY RICEPrint This
- INGREDIENTS TO MARINATE THE CRAB
- 200g crab meat, cooked
- 80g featherback fish, meat scraped
- 80g pork paste
- 20g black fungus soaked to swell
- 20g celery
- 20g carrots
- 5g green peppercorns
- 1g ground pepper
- 15g shallots
- 10g garlic
- 5ml fish sauce
- 5g sugar
- 100ml cooking oil
- 15ml rice wine
- INGREDIENTS FOR THE FIVE-COLOR STICKY RICE
- 1kg glutinous sticky rice
- 50g Gac pulp
- 70g unshelled green beans
- 1.2 liters of water
- 200g pandan leaves
- 400g coconut flesh, finely grated
- 200g magenta leaves
- 10g salt
- 150g sugar
- 1 liter warm water
- ACCOMPANYING INGREDIENTS
- 40g chili paste
Prepare the sticky rice: Boil 200g of fresh magenta leaves with 1 liter of water and 5g of salt; cook them on medium heat for 30 minutes until the mixture turns dark purple. Strain to attain 200ml of its extract. Finely chop 200g of pandan leaves, then put them in the blender, add 200ml of water and blend well, then strain them for 200ml of extract. Pour 300ml of warm water into 400g of flaked coconut flesh, and wring out to get the coconut milk. Remove the seeds of the Gac from the pulp then blend the pulp thoroughly in a blender.
Soak the glutinous rice: Wash the sticky rice thoroughly and divide it into five equal portions, 200g each. Add 200ml of warm magenta leaves extract into a portion and soak it for 3 hours. Mix 70g of unshelled green beans with 1 portion of sticky rice then soak them in warm water for 3 hours. Soak the two remaining portions in warm water for 3 hours.
Prepare the crab bologna: Peel and finely chop the shallots and the garlic; clean the celery thoroughly. Then cut the shallots, carrots and black fungus into shoestrings.
Process: Put the scraped flesh of the featherback fish into a big bowl, marinate it with 5ml fish sauce, 5g sugar, 1g ground pepper, 10g minced shallots and 10g minced garlic, mix them thoroughly then knead the fish until the mixture becomes a chewy paste. Continue to add the pork paste and knead thoroughly and let sit for a while.
Put a pan on the stove; pour 15ml cooking oil into the pan. When the oil is heated through, add 5g chopped shallots and slightly sauté them until fragrant; add the carrots and black fungus and quickly stir-fry them, then add the celery and continue to stir-fry, add the cooked crab meat and stir-fry them on high heat, then add 15ml rice wine and stir-fry the mixture until there is no rice wine left. Add the green peppercorns, stir constantly and then turn off the heat, leave the mixture to cool down. After that, combine with the featherback fish and kneaded pork paste, knead the mixture until it is glutinous and chewy, and then roll it into bite-size balls.
Fry the crab bologna: Put a pan onto the oven, add the remaining cooking oil, when the oil is heated through, slightly press each ball and slide them into the pan one at a time on medium heat. When both sides are evenly golden, take them out and drain them on paper towels.
Steam the five-color sticky rice: After soaking each portion of sticky rice, take them out and drain them, mix each portion with 1g salt. Mix one portion of glutinous rice with 50g ground Gac pulp to have the red sticky rice. Keep the remaining portion for the white one.
In a large steamer, pour in some water until it reaches two-thirds of its height and boil on high heat. The steamer should have a steamer tray with small holes so that the sticky rice won’t fall into the water. Separately put the five portions of sticky rice into the steamer to prevent them from mixing with each other. Close the lid and cook the rice on high heat until they evenly evaporate.
After 15 minutes, remove the lid; if the sticky rice is transparent and has evenly swollen, slowly spoon over the coconut milk on each portion of sticky rice, then repeatedly stir the rice so that the top layer is at the bottom of the steamer sieve. Make sure you do it gently to prevent the colors from mixing with each other. Close the lid and steam for 20 more minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the lid and turn the rice over again to make sure that the sticky rice is soft and sticky. If the sticky rice is not soft enough, spoon over some more coconut milk. If it is cooked, sprinkle 30g sugar on each serve and mix it thoroughly, cover the lid again and steam for 5 more minutes so that the sugar completely dissolves (season with more sugar to taste).
When the sticky rice is cooked, take the steamer out of the stove and remove the lid so that the water won’t fall down onto the rice.
Place the crab bologna on a plate and serve with the sticky rice and chili sauce. Some mandarin segments could be added on top for garnishing.
The crab bologna should be cooked to a golden color, chewy and fragrant with a pleasing taste; the five-color glutinous rice should be soft and sticky, fragrant and with the creamy taste of the coconut milk. The colors shouldn’t be mixed into each other.
The crab bologna can be pressed into a tray and steamed rather than fried to avoid using too much cooking oil; if it is deep- fried, it is chewier.
EFFECTS OF THE DISH
This dish combines the effects of crab meat, pork paste, featherback fish, black fungus and carrots; therefore, it helps tonify Qi and blood, enhance sperm, create more marrow, enhance the immune system, increase body resistance, relieve constipation, provide lots of essential amino acids, trace minerals and vitamins, enhance eyesight, and create more breast milk. This dish is very useful for people with asthenic body syndrome, damaged immune system, neurasthenia, anemia, women with irregular menstruation, pregnant women with little breast milk, asthenia, weak children with appetite loss, men having erectile problems, backaches, impaired eyesight, bad memories, people with broken bones, osteoporosis, numbness of limbs, constipation, and diabetes.
Author: KHAU VAN DUONG Rex Hotel Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) Runner-up in the Southern Regional semi-final round of the Golden Spoon Awards 2013