Saturday, June 25, 2016

Stir-Fried Garlic Scapes with Seared Sea Scallops (serves 2)

These garlic scapes are available for only a short season every year around end of June and early July. Recently at a Farmer's Market I was lucky to spot and  purchase 2 small bunches. These are sweet and crunchy with a mild garlicky taste. They are delicious in a quick saute with some local fresh off-the-boat seared sea scallops.

garlic scapes
cut into 2-inch lengths
Stir-Fried Garlic Scapes with Seared Sea Scallops (serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp oil
2 small bunches of garlic scapes (10 1/2 oz), washed, cut into 2 inch lengths
1 Tbsp water
2 tsp of oyster sauce
A few pinches of raw sugar
10 Seared Sea Scallops

Method:

1) Heat a pan with oil over medium high. Add garlic scapes. Saute about a minute.
2) Add water, oyster sauce and sugar to taste. Saute about another minute.
3) Add the Seared Sea Scallops and serve.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Bánh Pa Tê Sô or Pâté Chaud (Vietnamese Hot Pastries)--makes 36 pastries

Bánh Pa Tê Sô or Pâté Chaud (Vietnamese Hot Pastries)
Vietnamese bánh pa tê sô or pâté chaud are French inspired hot and savory meat pastries. I assisted a friend of a friend to make these over two decades ago. I remember the recipe was simple and it came from her uncle. It consisted of just a few ingredients--beef, onion, salt, pepper, sugar and store bought puff pastry sheets. Although they were tasty I made them only a handful of times since that day. This week I decided it was time to recreate them since I have a few new fresh ingredients to experiment with. How could I make pâté chaud without pâté or any hint of liver? I visited Exeter Farmer's Market and was lucky to find a slice of beef liver from my local farmer. It looks amazingly fresh and healthy...and with no visible parasites! Remember my monkfish livers a few posts ago? I think I lost a few friends after posting that! My coworker Moniqua gave me bags of fresh scallions and garlic leaves from her garden and they inspired me to use them for the filling. Thank you Moniqua for your generosity! My Ah Ma (grandmother) frequently uses fresh garlic leaves in her cooking. She tells me that I may omit garlic cloves if I am already using the leaves. I find that a pair of kitchen scissors is useful for snipping the scallions and garlic leaves quickly.

While at Exeter Farmer's Market I approached a local farm and this was part of my conversation with him & later with my husband (now I am going to lose more friends by posting this!): 

Me: Do you raise pigs on your farm?
Farmer: Yes.
Me (glancing around and keeping my voice low): Do you sell pig's ear, snout, stomach, or bladder?
Farmer (glancing around): Let me get back to you in a week.
My husband (later when we were in the car driving home): I see you did not ask for testicles.
Me: Because you think that I need to build some sort of rapport with him prior to asking for his balls! 


A few years ago I emailed someone I met at the market and requested for some testicles and he abruptly stopped writing. My husband who is always diplomatic tells me that I should get to know someone better before I ask for such things. What can I say? I prefer to just get to the point!

Bánh Pa Tê Sô or Pâté Chaud (Vietnamese Hot Pastries)--makes 36 pastries

Bánh Pa Tê Sô or Pâté Chaud (Vietnamese Hot Pastries) Filling--makes 3.2 pounds or 36 individual portions


bánh pa tê sô or pâté chaud
(Vietnamese hot pastries) filling
9 tiny portions of filling to be used for the pastries
Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled, diced (1 1/2 cup diced)
1 slice of beef liver (7 3/4 oz), cut into thin slices for quick cooking
1 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped garlic leaves, plus 1/3 cup chopped garlic leaves
2.12 lbs pork, ground (2 lbs would be fine)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp crushed sea salt
1 tsp raw sugar
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black or white pepper
2 tsp mirin (Japanese rice wine)

Method:

1) In a small pan heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and saute until soft. Add liver pieces and cook about a minute until the outside is no longer pink.
2) Add scallions and 1/2 cup sliced garlic leaves. Saute about another minute and remove from heat to cool completely.
3) Cut the pork in small cubes and grind a small portion at a time until complete. Remove the ground pork and place in a large bowl.
4) Pick out the liver pieces and grind them. Add the ground liver to the ground pork.
5) Add the cooled cooked scallions and garlic leaves, the remaining 1/3 cup sliced garlic leaves, sesame oil, salt, pepper, sugar and mirin. Mix all ingredients well. I use a pair of chopsticks and a fork to blend everything together. May divide the filling into 12 ounce portions. Each portion will yield 9 small portions enough for each box of pastry. Avoid trying to form balls. Keep the filling loose. This way the filling will be soft and not hard once baked. May use the filling right away or cover and place in the refrigerator 1-2 days.

*This filling is not too salty. As always adjust the ingredients according to your taste preference.
*You can basically use any kind of liver you have available. If you don't like liver just omit it.
*The garlic taste is not overpowering despite using lots of scallion and garlic leaves in this recipe. If you do not have garlic leaves then use a few cloves of garlic. For such filling I either grate or finely mince them. 

Pastry Assembly (makes 36 pastries)

each pastry sheet = 9 squares
sealed pastries with a fork
egg yolk wash on top for a nice golden color once baked
Ingredients:

1 recipe of Bánh Pa Tê Sô or Pâté Chaud (Vietnamese Hot Pastries) Filling (see recipe above)
4 boxes Ready-To-Bake Pepperidge Farm 1.1 lbs puff pastry sheets (keep frozen until ready to use)
4 eggs (yolk and white separated in separate bowls)--About one egg yolk for each box of pastry sheets

Method:

1) Remove the pastry from the box and keep it out at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Once the pastry is partially thawed unfold the sheets. Cut the sheets into 18 equal squares (9 squares per sheet).
2) Dab the edges with the egg white. Place a small individual portion of filling in the center of each 9 squares. Place the top square on each one. Press the top down slightly if needed. Gently press the edges together with your finger and thumb. Push the filling in if it leaks out. Take a fork and press down along the the edges to make a tight seal.
3) Brush a thin layer of egg yolk on top for a nice golden color once baked.
4) Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Use the center rack in the oven.

*Make your own puff pastry if you have time. These store bought ones are convenient, flaky and light.

Vietnamese hot pastries
*This time I used pork instead of beef. However, you may substitute with another meat if interested.
*If you cut the pastries in squares then you will not be wasting any of the dough. You can also make round or triangular shaped pastries.

Addendum: So, one of my brothers ate 2 of these pastries and tells me that the filling needs extra salt and pepper. His kids ate them and seemed to enjoy them. When you make your filling just season it according to your taste preference. 

my brother and his children (2016)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Grilled Dried Squid--my cousin's way

My cousins, nephews and I visited a few temples in Bạc Liêu (a city about 35 miles southwest of Sóc Trăng (Vietnam). My cousins hired an SUV and a driver to take us around. This is a typical mode of transportation for group of people in Vietnam to travel together. Very few people have the luxury to own a car and most do not know how to drive a 4-wheel vehicle. Most people own a scooter since this is the most economical way to get around on a daily basis. Initially my cousins and I were talking about riding scooters to Bạc Liêu along the highway as a group since it would be more fun and we could easily stop in many more places. However, in the end my cousins decided against this idea. I was glad we went by car since that last week that I was in Vietnam I was taking 2-3 cold showers a day because the weather was so hot and humid. After a 3 month stay and being careful with sun protection I managed to get a bad sunburn on my shoulders anyway.

Although Bạc Liêu is situated on the ocean I did not see much of an ocean view. There was plenty of fresh seafood for sale along the side of the road and by the temple but nothing seemed eye catching. I guess I know that I can either self-harvest or buy fresh and clean seafood once I return home (to the States). 

a few of my cousins and nephews
We visited two temples, Nhà Thờ Cha Diệp and Phật Bà Nam Hải so my cousins could worship/pray. In between the 2 temple visits we had a picnic with the prepared food made by cousin Ngọc. There are huge public eating areas with tables, chairs, running water, sinks, and electrical outlets. At Nhà Thờ Cha Diệp I noticed the other visitors actually brought their rice cookers! The 10 of us (including our driver) took up 2 tables. We spread out what Ngọc made; fresh steamed rice, sauteed chicken with ginger, and Vietnamese dessert made from agar agar (gelatin). My cousin Khiêm and our driver grilled the dried squid by lighting rubbing alcohol that has been poured in a metal tray. We forgot to pack along chopsticks so our driver used 2 spoons to hold the squid together. I do not recommend this method of grilling since you can easily burn your fingers/hand from the hot metal. I found a ficus tree nearby and managed to break off a 2-foot aerial root that was hanging from a branch. I gave this to Khiêm and he tied the dried squid with the root. Because the root is still live the squid was grilled and the root was not burned. Khiêm said this worked great!

my nephew and his coffee
this iced coffee is mine
We also did not bring any hot chili peppers. When the next table heard this they gave us a few! Sometimes it pays to be loud! After a delicious and filling lunch we explored the grounds and before leaving had home-made iced coffee under the shaded tree next to our parked SUV. My cousins brought black coffee in a bottle and made all of us the tastiest coffee found in Bạc Liêu that day! Sometimes the most memorable dishes and drinks are simple and enjoyed in good company and setting. Special thanks to cousins Khiêm, Ngọc, Tâm, Siếu Hủi, Miền Lái, Son and our driver & friend Hải!
grilling squid--my cousin's way
grilling squid--my cousin's way
grilled dried squid
Grilled Dried Squid--my cousin's way

Ingredients:

Dried squids

Method:

Grill each squid over low heat for about a minute. Avoid burning the squid.

*There are many ways to eat these squids. You can tear the grilled squid into small pieces and eat it plain or along with beer. Some people dip it into a tamarind sauce. Others may shred it and add to mango salad.

Pan-Fried Boneless Pork Sirloin Steaks (serves 2)

 
Pan-Fried Boneless Pork Sirloin Steaks

Here is a simple, quick and tasty pan-fried pork steak recipe. For this particular recipe I prefer to buy pork with a little fat still attached--both for taste and to keep the meat moist. Recently my coworker Moniqua gave me bags of scallions and garlic leaves from her garden. I used a fraction of the fresh scallions for this. This recipe has enough salty taste for my husband and me. However, feel free to adjust the ingredients according to your taste. One way to taste test your food prior to cooking the whole thing is simply to cut a tiny piece and cook it. Although having said this I rarely do it myself. This is definitely not quite scientific but I tend to season my food by feel and look. The best way to check if the meat is cooked is by cutting into the thickest point of the meat. 

Thank you Moniqua for the delicious herbs!

home-grown scallions from Moniqua's garden
marinated pork steaks
Pan-Fried Boneless Pork Sirloin Steaks (serves 2)

Ingredients:

0.88 lb bone pork sirloin steak (3 pieces), washed and dabbed with a paper towel to dry
1/2 tsp raw sugar
1 tsp dark amber maple syrup (made in New Hampshire)
1 tsp Chinese rice wine 
1 1/2 tsp fish sauce (may add more if you prefer a saltier taste)
1 large garlic clove, smashed, peeled and finely minced (about 1 1/2 tsp)
2 Tbsp chopped scallion

Method:

Marinade the meat with the rest of the ingredients. Leave for about 15 minutes. Pan fry with a little oil (I used vegetable oil) over medium high heat about 3 1/2 minutes on each side or until thoroughly cooked.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Grilled Lemongrass Meatballs (makes about 65)

Making meatballs can be a bit of tedious work especially in large quantities but the final product is tasty and versatile that I don't mind making them. You can make these meatballs using pork, chicken, or turkey. These meatballs can be eaten bánh mì style (Vietnamese sandwich). I also like these with steamed rice or rice noodles (known as bún in Vietnamese) with lots of fresh herbs, vegetables and Vietnamese dipping sauce (known as nước chấm).

My husband, a couple of friends and I drove up North (in New Hampshire) to our friend's lake house. I formed the meatballs the night before and let them sit overnight in my refrigerator in a container. Once at the lake house I grilled them and we ate them with rice noodles and green papaya salad.

Grilled Lemongrass Meatballs (makes about 65)

Ingredients:

4 lbs ground pork
1 large lemongrass, finely minced or about 1/2 cup of ground fluff using a coffee grinder
1 cup chopped scallions
6-8 garlic cloves, smashed and finely minced (depending on your taste) or finely grated
1 thumbnail-size ginger, finely grated
1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp chicken powder

Method:

1) Sprinkle all ingredients on the ground pork.
2) Gently mix all ingredients until well blended. Try to avoid overworking the mixture.
3) Oil your hands and form each meatball to approximately 1 1/4 inch diameter. Roll each one with your palms.
4) Slide these on a skewer and grill until done. Turn every 3-4 minutes to prevent burning. The timing will be based on the amount of heat from your grill. You can test the done-ness by tasting one!

*Try not to use all lean ground pork. Having a little fat will help keep these balls moist when you grill them.
*Overworking or over-kneading the meatballs tends to make them hard.
*You can use an ice cream scooper to form consistent sized balls.
*You can fry one meatball on a skillet and get an idea for the taste and then adjust the salt or fish sauce according to your taste. I tend not to make my food too salty. If you do not have a grill you can fry these with a little oil. Frying will keep these meatballs moist. The cooking time for frying will depend on your skillet/pan/pot and heat source.
*You can also add more lemongrass if you are interested for a stronger flavor. I used a very large lemongrass stalk in this recipe.
*I prefer to use my microplane to grate my ginger. I have one that I bought from a hardware store.  I used it to grate many things such as garlic, citrus fruit zest and nutmeg to name a few.

My husband on a stand up paddle board (at the lake) at dusk.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Braised Eel (Luon Kho)--serves 2-3 as part of a shared meal

braised eel (luon kho)
Recently I saw some eels at the fish counter at a market in Boston Chinatown. I purchased 2 (that came to about 1 1/2 pounds) and the man behind the counter gutted and bagged them for me. I am not sure where these eels came from since the man speaks only Cantonese (a dialect that is foreign to me) and even if I could talk to him he may not know the answer. It may not be a good idea to eat eels that come from an unknown source too frequently, or just plain never according to my mother! Initially she thought the eels looked great until she learned where I got them. I often see them swimming in a tank next to the fish counter but never bought any. The last time I bought eels was during my previous trip to Vietnam. The eels there were much smaller than these. I had forgotten how bloody and slimy these particular type of eels can be. Once home I had to really clean the intestines well by removing the blood vessels, scraping the body and belly and rubbing their entire body in a vinegar bath several times. It requires a bit of time and patience but in the end of my cleaning session they are pretty much slime and blood free. If you do not clean them well they may have a strong odor when you cook them. Having had to clean eels many times I know what it takes to perform a thorough and proper job. I have heard of this myth that eels will always be slimy no matter how much effort is put into cleaning them. My husband actually touched the cleaned eels and was surprised that they did not feel slimy.

Here is my previous post on How to Clean Eels. My mother cleans her eels with warm water, salt and vinegar to get them extra clean. She uses the salt to rub the entire body.

This braised eel dish is known as luon kho in Vietnamese. This typical kho dish tends to be saltier than normal and people generally dip fresh vegetables (such as lettuce, herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes), either steamed or boiled vegetables in the liquid. For this meal I ate boiled okra and water spinach with fresh cut tomatoes. 

2 eels from the market
cleaned eels
Braised Eel (Luon Kho)--serves 2-3 as part of a shared meal

Ingredients:

1 Eel (about 12 oz), cut into 2-inch lengths pieces
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 Tbsp grated garlic (2 large)
1 tsp turbinado sugar
1/4 tsp ground black pepper (plus a few pinches more to garnish)
1 cup coconut water
1 scallion, green part only, chopped (garnish)

Method:

Put all ingredients (except for the scallions) in a small pot. Once the liquid boils, turn the heat down to medium low and let it simmers for 30 minutes with the cover partially on. Remove the cover and let the liquid simmers for another 10 more minutes (to help evaporate some of the liquid) or until the liquid has reduced to your preference. Remove the eel pieces and reserve them in a clean bowl. Strain the liquid and pour it over the eels. Garnish with a few pinches of ground black pepper and chopped scallions.

*Since I purchased 2 eels I was able to pick out the larger pieces for braising. The smaller eel pieces I used for the hot pot.
*If you do not have turbinado sugar you may use any brown sugar for this recipe.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Eel Tamarind Hot Pot (Lau Canh Chua Luon)--serves 2

eel tamarind hot pot (lau canh chua luon)
vegetables for the hot pot
eels for the hot pot

I enjoy eating canh chua, a classic Vietnamese sour soup made from tamarind extract. People typically use ca loc which is mud fish or snakehead fish found in Southeast Asia. I have made this soup many times using salmon, shrimp, and a variety of seafood. My husband and I were in Charlestown for the Bunker Hill parade and then took the ferry back to Boston. On our walk from the harbor we stopped in Chinatown for some ingredients. There were some whole eels at the fish counter. I asked for one but the fish monger said something in Cantonese that sounds like he was disappointed that I want only one. When I pointed out the 2 that I want he seemed to approve. In Chinatown when you purchase fish they clean it (scale and gut) for you without asking. It's a great service. Since the eels do not have scales he gutted them and bagged them for me.

While in the store I also ran into one of the women who worked at the Vietnamese banh mi shop. She saw me and stopped to chat. She tells me she does not eat eels because they are too slimy. She also confirmed that she is leaving the sandwich shop to take care of her 3 grandchildren. It will be sad not to see her at the shop making my sandwiches. She has been there with the other women for several decades. It may sound like I shop there frequently but honestly I only go there a few times a year. Every time I shop there I talk to them and through the years have built a rapport with them.

Here is my recipe for the eel tamarind hot pot or lau canh chua luon in Vietnamese. Unfortunately I don't have ngo om or rice paddy herbs---making the canh chua more fragrant and authentic. For the vegetables the typical ones are mung bean sprouts, water spinach (or rau muong), tomatoes, okras and bac ha (a tuber plant with leaves that resemble taro--a plant that I have no name for in English). My mother likes to use these along with cabbage and pineapple in her soup. She also fry up a little garlic and oil and add this to the pot right before serving. Since this is a hot pot and the vegetables and eels are meant to be cooked at the table I add the fried garlic and oil in the broth. This little addition makes everything smell so good!

Eel Tamarind Hot Pot (Lau Canh Chua Luon)--serves 2

Ingredients:

6 cups cold water
1 tsp of good fish sauce
2 Tbsp Tamarind Soup Base (Sinigang Sa Sampalok Mix)
1 Tsp olive oil
2 large garlic cloves (about 2 Tbsp chopped)
1 eel (about 12 oz), cleaned well and cut into 2-inch lengths
A few cabbage leaves, cut into 3-4 inch pieces
About 10 okras, trimmed
1 large tomato, cut into wedges
A handful of water spinach
A handful of mung bean sprouts

Method:

1) Heat a pot with water over high heat. Once the water boils, turn heat down and add fish sauce and Tamarind Soup base. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. Turn heat to low.
2) Heat a small pan over medium high heat. Add oil. Once the oil is hot add garlic. Saute until the garlic is golden brown but not burned.
3) Pour the garlic oil mixture gently into the soup. Take a ladle of soup and rinse the pan and pour this back into the pot.
4) Ladle the soup into a hot pot. Cover the pot if needed to heat up.
5) Add eel and the vegetables (such as okras and cabbage) that require the longest time to cook.
6) Add the other vegetables and eat while everything is cooking.

*You may make individual little dipping sauces with a good fish sauce and some spicy chili pepper.
*This hot pot is good with either rice or  rice noodles.
*Prepare as little or as much vegetables and eels as you can eat. It is best to prepare more than you think you will eat. This way you will not be running back into the kitchen to wash more vegetables.
*The Tamarind Soup Base is used today due to convenience. However, it does contain a small amount of monosodium glutamate (MSG). If you prefer not to eat any MSG then you may extract tamarind from the ripe pods (be sure to remove and discard the tough brown skin) with hot water to get the sour taste for this soup. If you do this you will need to season your broth with fish sauce, salt and sugar according to your taste.
*If you have any ngo om or rice paddy herbs then chop them up and add to the broth.
*If everyone in your party can eat spicy food then you may add some chili in the pot.
*Eels can be bloody and very slimy. Be sure to clean them well. My mother cleans her eels with both salt and vinegar. Check out my previous blog on How to Clean Eels
*A few photos below came from the 2016 Bunker Hill Day parade. This huge parade is an annual tradition for the city to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill Day which was fought on Breed's Hill on June 17, 1775 in Charlestown, Massachusetts. This battle was part of the Siege of Boston--which took place during the American Revolutionary War (aka the American War of Independence).


2016 Bunker Hill Day parade
2016 Bunker Hill Day parade
2016 Bunker Hill Day parade
2016 Bunker Hill Day parade

Monday, June 13, 2016

Ocean Pearls (makes 10 balls or 20 appetizers)

ocean pearls
ocean pearls
Recently I made about 2 pounds of this filling, consisting mainly of pork, periwinkles, and seaweed. I decided to use some to form little balls to make appetizers and call these ocean pearls. The making of this filling requires some work and patience, especially removing these small snails from their shells. This time I got a few friends to try including a neighbor who thinks I can make road kill taste good. Fortunately for me they all seem to think these appetizers were delicious! 

Form the Periwinkle-Pork-Seaweed Filling
into approximately 1-inch balls
Roll each ball in panko to coat
Either deep fry the balls or pan fry them in hot oil until they are golden brown
Ocean Pearls (makes 10 balls or 20 appetizers)

Ingredients:

About 1/2 of the recipe for Periwinkle-Pork-Seaweed Filling
1 egg (room temperature), cracked it into a small bowl, stirred with a fork
About 1/2 cup honey panko, poured it on a plate
Oil for frying

Method:

1) Form the Periwinkle-Pork-Seaweed Filling into approximately 1-inch balls.
2) Dip each ball into the egg mixture, remove excess egg. Roll it in panko to coat.
3) Either deep fry the balls or pan fry them in hot oil until they are golden brown (about 5-7 minutes for pan fry). Once completed cut all of them in half to yield 20 appetizers.

*Pan fry will take longer cooking time. Keep a splatter guard on the pan to contain the oil. You may check for doneness by cutting one in half. The pork should not be pink once cooked but the cooked bacon may look pink.

sauteed baby kale
Sauteed Baby Kale

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp oil
5 oz fresh baby kale
A pinch of salt

Method:

Heat a pan over medium high heat. Add oil once the pan is hot. Add kale and saute until the kale is wilted. Add salt and remove from heat. Cooking time should be only a few minutes.

*If you have leftover kale you can use it for another meal.

1 French Bread

Cut the bread in half then into 2 inch pieces and lightly toast.

*Depend on the length of your bread you may need more than one. The one I got at my local market was about 1 1/2 foot long. 

ocean pearls
Ocean Pearls Assembly

Use a little mayonnaise to spread on the toast, add some Sauteed Baby Kale (however little or much you prefer), and add half of the Ocean Pearls. May decorate your plate with some cooked seaweed if you have any.

*If you prefer a little spicy mix the mayonnaise with some Sriracha sauce. Spread a little on the toasts and then add a little dollop of it or a drizzle on top.

Periwinkle-Pork-Seaweed Filling (makes about 2 pounds)

Recently after working a full day I headed to the ocean--a few miles away from my work site. I rolled up my sleeves and pant legs, removed my shoes and socks and waded in the water. If you do this just be extremely careful since the seaweed can be quite slippery. I foraged over 3 pounds of periwinkles (ocean snails), some sea vegetables (also known as seaweed or sea herb) and even a few invasive green crabs! These periwinkles are about a half inch to one inch in length and are found attached to rocks along the shore at low tide. I recommend that you harvest snails and sea vegetables only in clean water and away from people, homes or buildings. The best way to harvest sea vegetables is to use a pair of scissors and trim near the base so that they can regrow. Pick only what you can eat to prevent waste.

Once home I kept the snails covered in cold water for several hours to help purge some of their impurities. I then washed them well in several changes of clean cold water. I boiled them in water for 5 minutes. Drain them and once cooled remove the snails using a toothpick (a bamboo skewer will work too). You will know that the snails are not cooked if you are unable to pull them out of their shell easily. Three pounds of whole snails (including the shells) yields about 8 ounces of just snail meat! You can scoop them out and eat them right away with your favorite dipping sauce or reserve the snail meat for cooking. If you eat the cooked snails right away you can eat them while they are hot or cold. If they are hot be careful not to burn your fingers or tongue! I gave some boiled periwinkles to my friend Sabune to try. She described them as "delicious--salty and earthy".

Check out my previous posts on periwinkles for a few other ideas.

Boiled Periwinkles (this has a sauce) 
Sauteed Escargot with Duck Fat
Periwinkles with Garlic and Lemongrass

Boiled Periwinkles (about 8 ounces of snail meat)

Ingredients:

3 lbs freshly harvested periwinkles
Water

Method:

Soak the periwinkles in cold water for 2-3 hours so they can purge out some of their impurities. Wash them well in several changes of clean cold water (4-5 times if needed). Put the cleaned periwinkles in a pot, add enough cold water to cover the periwinkles, and bring the water to a boil for 5 minutes. Drain the snails into a colander. Use a toothpick and remove the snail from its shell. Discard the shell and the thin brown flap (or sometimes I call this its door). You may enjoy the hot snails as is with your favorite dipping sauce or you can save the snail for later use.

*You may add fresh seaweed, lemongrass (cut in half and bruised with a flat part of a knife to help release its flavor) or even some guava leaves (if you have any) in the boiling pot for a hint of extra flavor.
*If you want to use them for making the stuffing as seen below then wait until they are cooled before handling them. 
*When you harvest the periwinkles try to take only the largest ones. You will understand the reason once you are trying to remove them from their shell! Three pounds of periwinkles yields about 8 ounces of meat.
*If you are not going to eat them right away then cook them first, drain, and once cooled keep them refrigerated to be eaten later. They are good in the refrigerator for about 4-5 days. 

freshly harvested periwinkles
snail meat removed from their shells
different types of sea vegetables (gracilaria, Irish moss, and sea lettuce)
cooked bacon, onion, sccallions, garlic, ginger,
sea vegetables, salt, pepper, and sugar
putting all ingredients together
periwinkle-pork-seaweed filling (all blended together)
Periwinkle-Pork-Seaweed Filling (makes about 2 pounds)

Ingredients:

2 tsp olive oil
3 bacon strips (about 3 1/4 oz), diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped scallions, green part only
2 large garlic cloves, grated
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
3 1/2 oz fresh sea vegetables (sea lettuce, gracilaria, Irish moss), washed well, chopped
1/2 tsp crushed sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper (white or black)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 lb lean pork
A handful of cilantro leaves (about 1/3 cup chopped), chopped
8 oz cooked periwinkle meat only (see above), roughly chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp mirin (Japanese rice wine)

Method:

1) Heat a medium sized pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil once the pan is hot.
2) Add bacon and onion. Stir and saute for about 2 minutes or until the onion is soft.
3) Add scallions, garlic, ginger, sea vegetables, salt, pepper, and sugar. Stir and saute for about 3 minutes or until the sea vegetables and bacon bits are cooked. Remove from heat and let the contents cooled completely.
4) Add pork, cilantro leaves, periwinkles, sesame oil, turmeric powder and mirin. Gently mix until all ingredients are well blended.

*I prefer to use pancetta but I was not able to purchase a small piece at the local store so I used hardwood smoked sugar cured bacon.
*I used sea lettuce, Irish moss, and gracilaria that I harvested from the ocean. If you have other types of seaweed you prefer then add that. Check out my previous post on Maine Seaweed Festival 2015 for photographs of different sea vegetables found in Maine and New Hampshire.

ocean pearls (appetizers)
stuffed lumaconi (snail pasta) with tomato sauce

Crispy Fried Green Crabs on a Bed of Simple Relish (one small bite)

photo of invasive green crab
photo of invasive green crab
photo of invasive green crabs and seaweed
While foraging for periwinkles (ocean snails) and sea vegetables (along coastal New Hampshire) I spotted a few green crabs. They were quick but I was quicker! I have never seen them before but this time I saw 3 of them. The adult grows to about 3 inches in length. I have read about them causing havoc along coastal Maine. These green crabs are invasive and harming our environment by eating the young local sea life (in the United States). Getting rid of them completely would be unrealistic but I think the best way to decrease their number would be to capture and eat them. My Nurse Practitioner colleague and friend Sana suggested that I batter fry them. Whether she was kidding or not I took her recommendation seriously. This recipe is inspired by her. Thank you Sana! Be sure the pan and oil are hot before you place the crabs in it. When they are alive they do not like to be covered by the egg and panko and may try to crawl away! Once added to the hot pan they will die almost instantly. These crabs do not have a hard shell like the dungeness crabs so I was able to fry them and eat them whole. They are crunchy and tasty!   
                      
Here are some on-line articles if you would like to learn more about these invasive species:

Invasive Species--European Green Crab (Carcinus maenas)
How to identify a Green Crab
Invasive green crabs creep back into Casco Bay
Invasive green crabs-and threat to Maine's clams-dwindle

Crispy Fried Green Crabs (one small bite)

Ingredients:

1 small egg
About 1/3 cup honey panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
About 2 Tbsp of canola or vegetable oil
Wild green crabs, washed well

Method:

1) Crack an egg in a small bowl, whisk lightly with a fork.
2) Put the panko on a small plate.
3) Dip the crabs in the egg mixture, let the excess egg drip off.
4) Roll the crabs in the panko to coat evenly. Shake off excess panko. Keep the crabs in a bowl so they do not run off.
5) Heat a small pan to medium high. Add oil.
5) Once the oil is hot, put in the crabs. Use a splatter guard to keep the oil from spraying out of the pan. Fry each side until they are golden. It will take 2-3 minutes at most (depending on how hot your stove is). Remove and let it rest on a clean paper towel.

There are many ways to make a relish for this dish. Add whatever you want. This is a simple one that I used since I have these ingredients in my kitchen. Adjust the ingredients and season according to your taste.

Simple Relish (serves 1)

Ingredients:

3 grape tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp chopped onions
About 1 Tbsp chopped fresh gracilaria (sea vegetable)
A few cilantro leaves, chopped
A pinch of crushed sea salt
A few squeezes of lemon juice
A few drizzles of olive oil

Method:

In a small bowl, add tomato, onion, sea vegetable, cilantro, salt, lemon juice and oil. Mix everything together.

gracilaria (seaweed)
*Check out my previous post on Maine Seaweed Festival 2015 for photographs of different sea vegetables. 

crispy fried green crabs on a bed of simple relish
Crispy Fried Green Crabs on a Bed of Simple Relish (one small bite)

Pour the Simple Relish (see recipe above) out on a plate. Place the Crispy Fried Green Crabs on top. Zest some lemon rind on top. Squeeze a little more lemon juice over everything and eat right away.

*You may freeze the crabs about 10 minutes prior to cooking if you prefer not to use live crabs.