Deconstructed California roll

Posted on August 4, 2006 by Aun

Whenever my darling wife S brings home live Sri Lankan crabs from the market, I get excited. I love the flavors and textures of freshly cooked crab. S also has a phenomenal, continuously expanding repertoire of crab dishes. Her crab cakes, for example, are truly inspiring.

I’m a very lazy crab eater. I hate peeling crabs. This makes me the worst kind of crab lover. I love the taste but I hate the work. Partly because I’m just not very skillful when it comes to extracting the meat from the shell but also because I’m just too darned impatient. Fortunately, S is as patient as she is pretty and she’ll kindly spend an hour or two working her way through a couple of crabs whenever the need arises. Which means that when I need some freshly picked crabmeat for a dish I’m working on, she’ll come to my rescue.

A couple of years ago, while on a business trip to Melbourne, I had the opportunity to dine at a fantastic little hole-in-the-wall called Yu’u. One of my favourite dishes from that meal was a salmon tartar composed of large cubes of raw salmon, tossed with seaweed, avocado and tobiko. When I returned home, I knew I had to try and replicate it. Because the staff at Yu’u had refused to give me the ingredients for the tartar‘s dressing, I had to try to figure it out on my own. After a few attempts, I came pretty close. Once I had nailed down what I felt was a fair reproduction, I then started to experiment, changing ingredients and tweaking the dressing until the resulting dish was something that I felt represented my own personal tastes and styles.

I love California rolls. So, pairing the seaweed, avocado, and roe with crabmeat instead of salmon seemed like a good idea. It also makes the dish, to me, feel more special and more refined — which is something that the introduction of crab into a dish always seems to do. And since my lovely wife is always willing to prep some deliciously fresh crabmeat for me, this has become one of my favourite dishes to serve friends. Once you prep the crabmeat — or like me convince someone you love to do it for you — the rest of the dish is actually very easy to make. And it never fails to please and impress.

Tian of crabmeat, avocado, wakame and ikura

Serves 8

Meat from 2 steamed Sri Lankan Crabs
2 avocados, peeled, deseeded and diced
2 teaspoons of dried wakame
8 teaspoons of ikura
Juice from 1 lemon

Dressing
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon wasabi
2 tablespoons shiro miso
1 teaspoon Japanese mayonnaise
1.5 teaspoons mirin
Salt to taste

Soak the dried wakame in some hot water. When expanded, transfer to a bowl of ice water. Then drain and place the wakame on a plate lined with paper towels.

Drizzle some of the lemon juice over the diced avocado. Mix the ingredients of the dressing together. Put all the crabmeat in a bowl and add dressing to taste. Mix well. Place a small round metal ring on the centre of a plate. Put some avocado into the ring. Then put a healthy portion of the crabmeat over the avocado. Place wakame on top and place one teaspoon of the ikura over it. Carefully remove the metal ring and serve.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. zhonghuarising August 4, 2006 at 3:51 am

    Looks delicious, as always. I am the same lazy kind of crab eater – can’t get enough of the meat but can’t stand the work involved. It is the same with lobster. Thank goodness they are so tasty when all is said and done or none of it would be worth it!

  2. ben August 4, 2006 at 5:06 am

    If you like Yu’u, have you tried Yoshii in Sydney? I know the setup’s different, but I believe Ryuichi to be far superior in his sushi skills. The degustation menu is always subliminal.

  3. /77!cH3//3 August 4, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    hi! i juz happened to stumble upon ur blog and i love it! nice pics! and the food makes me drool.

    i wish i could cook like u 2!

    i’ll be popping by again real soon!

    cheers! =)
    mich

  4. ana August 4, 2006 at 1:32 pm

    Hi! What exactly is wakame, is it seaweed? Lovely pictures as always.

  5. Jen August 4, 2006 at 1:56 pm

    Hi there :-)

    I’ve been visiting your blog for some time now, but this is my first comment! Well done on the quality of your photos. I also love the way you mention your wife. It’s so sweet!

  6. Julia August 4, 2006 at 10:26 pm

    Totally agree with Jen!
    Superb picture! Have never eaten crab before but it looks really delicious; nice touch that topping, ikura, is it a kind of caviar??
    Well anyway, really enjoyed your post again! :)

  7. J August 5, 2006 at 12:30 am

    hi, the crab was super sweet, succulent and juicy – just heavenly. and flavoured with your special dressing, just amazing. like you’ve said, a most s-crab-repertoire-worthy addition ;)

  8. Sherry August 5, 2006 at 2:35 am

    That sounds really good – it’s difficult to get good crab in Luton though!

    What I find amusing is that in S’pore everybody seems to rave about Sri Lankan crabs while in Sri Lanka, it’s all about Singapore crabs. There’s some sort of secret “most-favoured” arrangement isn’t there!? :)

  9. Deb August 5, 2006 at 9:19 am

    Looks and sounds insane! I’m more like s. I could spend hours chopping and preparing…it’s like meditation to me.

  10. Chubby Hubby August 6, 2006 at 12:57 am

    zhonghuarising: I hate the work. Thank god I have someone who is willing to help out.

    Ben: I couldn’t get a seat at Yoshii on my last visit to Sydney. I’m dying to try it. I agree, sushi is not a strength of Yu’u’s chef. But the cooked food is excellent.

    Mich: Thanks so much.

    Ana: Hi, yes it’s a kind of seaweed. It’s usually sold dry but at some Japanese supermarkets you can get it fresh.

    Jen: Thanks so much.

    Julia: Thanks. Ikura is salmon roe, so, yah, it’s a kind of caviar used mostly by the Japanese.

    J: Glad you liked it.

    Sherry: Really? Singapore crabs are big in Sri Lanka? That’s quite funny actually.

    Deb: Oh, I’m sure your loved ones really appreciate the hard work you put in.

  11. Kat in the Hat August 6, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    A stupid question: how do you steam a crab humanely?

    I’ve never prepared crab at home as I was traumatised when, as a child, I saw our cook kill the crabs by inserting a chopstick into the eyes! Can you just skip this, and plop them directly into the steamer and hope that the heat lulls them to sleepy death? I heard that you can sometimes ask the crab stall man to steam it for you at Tekka Market?

    By the way, if you ever get the chance, try the araignee or spider crab in Brittany pref. in winter. We gorged on a huge fruits de mer platter last winter – the flesh is sweeter and more refined than hairy crab even. I kid you not! We’re heading out there again this week but shame it’s not oyster season.

  12. Anne August 7, 2006 at 6:10 am

    Hi, was wondering if someone might be able to recommend a good thai restaurant in Singapore for a party of about 15.

    Thanks!

  13. Chubby Hubby August 7, 2006 at 9:23 am

    Kat: Doing anything humanely in the kitchen raises lots of questions. S kills her crabs by stabbing them right above the flap on their underside. Then she steams them. Some chefs just steam them live.

    Anonymous: Have you tried Yingthai on Purvis Street? Pretty good… not too expensive and can easily accomodate your group.

  14. May August 7, 2006 at 10:38 am

    It doesn’t surprise me that the yu.u chef wouldn’t share his recipe. He seems opposed to sharing as a concept. When a local newspaper called to tell him he’d been awarded him a much-coveted chef’s hat, he didn’t want the publicity and tried to get them to take it back, telling the journalist, “We making nasty frozen foods here.” When the award certificate arrived he instructed his wife to send it back. Apparently, she’s put it in a draw in case there ever comes a day when these things mean something to him. At of last visit to yu.u, that day had yet to arrive.

  15. /77!cH3//3 August 7, 2006 at 11:59 am

    wat a waste that u’r away on the 13th. nevertheless, looking forward to meet up with u in future. =)

    cheers~

  16. a. August 8, 2006 at 10:23 am

    I just discovered your blog, among the other amazing food blogs out there and I love it!! The images are simply amazing as is the food you are creating. Mind blowing! Food blogs these days are simply outstanding, and the most amazing thing is these people don’t cook in restaurants. Your blog is one of the best, and I am enjoying going through all the previous posts. Great job to you both.
    cheers, Alexa

  17. Marilyn August 8, 2006 at 3:41 pm

    Lovely post as always! I’m trying to get reservations to Yu-U and it turns out they are fully booked for the rest of this month *sob*

  18. SBK August 8, 2006 at 10:30 pm

    If you wish to kill any kind of crustacea humanely, you can render the creature unconscious by placing them in a freezer until they cease to move. Then kill in whichever manner suits your recipe.

    My favourite crab dish is the very simple but elegant Snow Crab Custard made by Flower Drum, also in Melbourne, a dish which as it happens, is quite easy to duplicate at home.

  19. Chubby Hubby August 9, 2006 at 10:11 am

    May: Would you believe when I asked if I could keep a copy of the menu, I got an angry and loud “no!”? Yikes.

    Mich: next time ;-)

    Alexa: Thanks so much for the kind words.

    Marilyn: You know, the first time I called them and asked for a reservation, they said, “no seats this week” and hung up. So, I waited an hour and called back, asking what time they opened. I then said that if I could be there at opening time and leave in one hour, could I come in. They agreed. Then, while I was there, I asked about other reservations. They then openly allowed me to book for later the same week.

    SBK: Thanks for sharing.

  20. Anonymous August 11, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    Hey, I tried a version of this! Using salmon sashimi. It’s good, thanks!

    brenda

  21. NARDAC August 13, 2006 at 7:21 am

    So brilliant! Deconstructing the California roll… fabulous. My only variation would be not to use the ikura but some smaller less salty roe.

    I agree with anonymous that the Brittany “araignee” are just the best crab. I’ve eaten crabs from all around the world and, having just gotten back from a holiday in Brittany, have sampled them… in quantity. Second in line might be the Chesapeake Bay crab.

    Actually, all the seafood we ate in Brittany was spectacular, (whelks, cockles, periwinkles, crawfish, langoustines, lobster, langoustes, sardines… etc etc) and it was very easy to get it from local fishermen in the morning. I think I must have single-handedly been responsible for the genocide of over 100 oysters. The triploids make them less milky in the summer, and nothing beats having one, straight out of the sea.

  22. William Conway August 16, 2006 at 1:27 am

    Simply beautiful. That’s one of the best examples of food porn I’ve seen in a very long time!

    My wife is a major C-roll fiend. I prefer the fatty tuna nigiri myself…

  23. Marilyn August 17, 2006 at 9:26 am

    CH, thanks for the tip-off regarding Yu-U!

  24. Cookwithlove May 11, 2007 at 10:00 am

    any idea what can subsitute the crab meat and ikura?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


6 − six =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>