In some western markets, very good lump crab meat is sold by the pound for relatively exhorbitant prices. But when you have to steam and extract crab meat yourself, you realize the cost of pre-peeled crab meat is probably well justifiedâ€¦ The first step to a delicious rellenong alimasag is obviously a lot of freshly steamed and cleanly picked crab meat. I plan on about two and a half whole crabs to make one well-stuffed shell. If you are preparing your own crab meat, steam the alimasag for 12 or so minutes until cooked and cool them in the shell for an hour or so before picking the flesh. Set aside the nicest crab shells for eventual stuffing. I like the larger alimasag shells so that the individual servings are substantial rather than the airy thin servings you tend to get in restaurantsâ€¦ Some folks suggest leaving the claws and legs on and only picking the â€œwhiteâ€ meat from the main bodyâ€¦the reason being this would make a better looking crustacean when cooked and platedâ€¦I find that too much of a bother.
To make, sautÃ© some chopped onions in some vegetable oil. Add some chopped garlic and chopped tomatoes. Add the crab meat. Add any herbs that seem to make sense, I added wansoy, chopped jalapeno peppers,green onions and lots of salt and freshly ground black pepper. I did not add ground meat as some like to do. I did not add fillers like breadcrumbs, bread cubes, etc. Stir until just cooked and cool slightly. Stuff the crab shells well until they form a tight mound on the shell. Brush with some lightly beaten egg to form a binder on the surface of the crab meat. Heat up a pan with an inch or two deep of vegetable oil and put on medium high heat. Once hot, carefully put the rellenong crab into the oil with shell side up and fry until a nice golden brown color is reached. Turn over briefly if the shell was not submerged completely in hot fat. Some folks recommend breadcrumbs on top of the egg wash but I find that the breadcrumbs sometimes burn and turn black before the crab is properly heated through.
I didnâ€™t do it on this batch of rellenong alimasag but I can see the addition of bacon and or pancetta as a possible variation. Also, parsley, basil, dill would also be interesting. The key is to key a lot of crab packed into the serving so you know exactly what the main ingredient is. The additional items are just to enhance the flavor of crabâ€¦donâ€™t overdo the onions, garlic or tomatoes. I served the rellenong crab with a salad of avocados, tomatoes, green beans and artichokes with a vinaigrette dressing. I was trying to convince myself that this qualified for a protein/vegetable South Forbes Diet dish but who was I joking. Throw on some mayonnaise mixed with ketchup and lemon and I was on the road to Crestor cholesterol pill heaven. Served with a wedge of lemon, the entire dish was really good. I donâ€™t have this often as I find the whole process of extracting crab meat tedious. I gave up on the western plating and added some steamed rice and tomato ketchup to finish off the SECOND crab shell that I ate that lunch!