Is this a recognised obsession, or am I the only sufferer?
It’s only really surfaced since my arrival in Malaysia. I spent the previous decade living a mere 10 miles from the home of the Cromer Crab without developing any symptoms at all … apart from a totally understandable urge to snigger at the crab-shaped lights decorating the Cromer seafront. But after three months here, I’ve developed a full-blown mania.
It all started on a trip to the seaside, where I first tried salted egg yolk prawns –
– and they were so delicious that I found myself sucking the empty shells after all the prawns had been eaten. Only my own shells, I hasten to add – although that was in the early days of my infatuation, so God knows what lengths I mightn’t go to now, if I found myself in the same prawn-deprived situation.
Then I was told that the home of salted egg yolk seafood is Penang – and the salted egg yolk crab is the dish to go for – so I had to go and try it –
and I was hooked.
The wonderful thing about crabs in Asia is that they are served hot and white; no prissy ‘dressed crab’ here – which I always think is an excuse for putting just one measly spoonful of crab meat onto a pile of brown sludge that tastes like ptomaine poisoning in a shell.
And it’s not just the crabs in Penang that are wonderful – the prawns are pretty amazing too – and you can choose the ones that take your fancy –
– this one was about the size of my forearm.
And then last month in Singapore, at the Hillman Restaurant, I lost my inhibitions.
Chilli crab is the dish to eat in Singapore – and their food website tells us:
“The king of all crab dishes, this popular dish is served with the shell on, and is typically eaten with one’s hands. Make sure you have plenty of napkins handy – it’s messy work!″
… and it certainly was. This was my chilli crab when it arrived –
and this is what the table looked like after I’d finished –
I was the floor show for the evening – the staff kept popping out of the kitchen to stare at me, as chilli sauce dripped off my elbows and I wiped it off my nose with the tablecloth, but I didn’t care.
Last week my infatuation moved to another level at Restoran New Wong Poh, where we had chilli crab, salted egg crab, plus my new favourite – butter crab.
You even get your own hammer –
so you can splatter your friends with chilli sauce
or you can just cover yourself if you prefer –
We’re now forming the Tuesday Night Crab Club, so I’ll be able to indulge my passion on a regular basis. If I can find similar enthusiasts for a Prawn Thursday and a Clam Saturday, then my happiness will be complete.