Wednesday, August 11, 2010

MONG KOK OR BUST - Black pepper crab

It always pays to do lots of research before you travel, especially if eating is on the top of your agenda!
This lead to us queuing for an hour outside a little hole in the wall restaurant in the back streets of Mong Kok in Hong Kong. I had heard so much about this little Dim Sum Michelin Star restaurant called Tim Ho Wan that from the time we set foot on the tarmac in Hong Kong at 6.30 in the morning, I was on a mission.
With amused husband and eager friend Vicki (pictured) in tow, we dumped our bags at the hotel reception and set off to Mong Kok on the very efficient underground. On surfacing into the hustle and bustle firmly clutching our map, we were approached by a friendly gentleman asking us if we needed help. On seeing our destination he took it upon himself to walk us all the way to the restaurant door. A good ten minute walk!
It was 8.45 in the morning, the restaurant opens at 10am and already the queue was forming!
At 9.45 with the queue well out of sight and around the corner, menu cards were handed out to the first 30 or so people to fill in and then gathered up and rushed to the kitchen. At 10am the doors opened and in we went with eager anticipation to taste the famous pork buns. WOW was it worth the wait! As had been recommended, we began and ended with the pork buns which were totally divine melt in the mouth morsels which had the eyes rolling in the back of my head. On leaving 30 minutes later (it didn’t seem right to keep people waiting longer than necessary) the question was raised should we come back in the evening!

I now had one up on Ann, my Hong Kong sister in law, so she is eagerly anticipating her next trip home to Hong Kong.
She did agree to share with us her fantastic recipe for Black Pepper Crab which I urge you to try. I know it’s a bit of a hassle to break up the crabs but they are simply delicious and you know what? Sometimes things are just worth the extra effort!
Cook it and love it.

Tim Ho Wan is open daily from 10am until 10pm. Address for the intrepid: Shop 8, 2 -20 Kwong Wa Street, Mong Kok.


3 medium sized crabs, portioned
2 spring onions
¼ cup black pepper corns
4 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1½ tablespoons corn starch
4 tablespoons soya sauce
¼ cup flour
canola oil for frying (1/3 wok full)
2 slices of ginger

Cut spring onion into 2 inch pieces and put aside. Partially grind pepper corns in coffee grinder or similar. Add garlic and grind until coarse paste formed (approximately 10 seconds). Place paste into mixing bowl. Add sugar and salt and blend. Put aside. In separate bowl, mix water, cornstarch and soya sauce. Put aside. Dust crab portions with flour.

Heat oil in wok until very hot. Carefully place crab portions into oil. Deep fry by stirring (approx one minute). Turn off gas. Scoop out portions onto draining paper.
Pour out oil leaving 4 tablespoons in wok. Stir fry pepper mix and ginger for 30 seconds.
Add cornstarch sauce mix and stir until it thickens. Add crab and spring onions to the sauce. Stir fry for ½ minute. Add 1 tablespoon oil to final stir.
Serve on banana leaf or similar and eat with your fingers!

Crab preparation.
Buy only live crabs. Place crabs in the freezer for 20 minutes so they go into a state of hibernation. Spread newspaper on floor with chopping board on top. Take the crabs out of the freezer and place crab shell side down on chopping board. Cut crab firmly down the centre into two, effectively killing the crab. Use back of cleaver to knock claws off. Cut string. Place cleaver or knife under shell to open slightly and pull shell off with fingers. Discard lungs and mouthpieces. Pull out and discard soft shell from roe. Wash under tap with coarse brush to remove mud. If large crabs are used then each half can be cut into smaller portions for serving. Smash claws with cleaver.