“Given our proximity to Chinatown, we are always careful to let people know we are not a traditional Chinese restaurant. Rather, we define ourselves as being influenced and inspired by all Asian cuisines; if it tastes great and uses items from our ingredient larder, then we want to make it for you. This dish was inspired by the traditional Thai dish mee krob, crisp noodles tossed with a sweet-and-sour sauce with lots of lime or lemon. We were coming out of a particularly long and cold winter in Boston (compared to those short mild winters we see…not!), and we were starting to feel spring creep up ever so slowly. This light, bright stir-fry filled with pea tendrils and the first English peas of the season hinted at the warm sun and longer days that were just around the corner. Picking crab is time- and labor-intensive, but if you have many hands, the task goes quickly. Sit around the table with your family or friends, pick crabs, and catch up on quality time. If you can’t find pea tendrils, feel free to substitute spinach or any other mild green leafy vegetable.” —Joanne Chang and Karen Akunowicz
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil, such as canola
- 1 bunch scallions (8 or 9), white and green parts finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup peeled and finely chopped ginger (about 8-inch piece)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
Crab and Vermicelli Noodles:
- 3 cups vegetable oil, such as canola, for frying (see Note, page 92)
- 6 ounces thin, dried, uncooked rice vermicelli noodles
- 1 medium garlic clove, sliced
- 1 leek, cleaned and sliced into 1/4-inch rings
- 1 pound fresh or frozen shucked crab meat
- 1 cup shelled English peas, or frozen green peas
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3/4 pound pea tendrils, trimmed, or baby spinach
- 12 mint leaves
- 12 Thai basil leaves
- 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
Make the scallion sauce: in a medium saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the scallions and ginger and season with the salt. Cook for 1 minute, then add the stock, soy sauce, and vinegar. Turn the heat up to high and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside. The scallion sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Set out a platter lined with paper towels to catch the noodles after they fry. In a large, deep saucepan, heat the vegetable oil to 350°F. Break up the noodles into four smaller bunches and drop them one at a time into the hot oil. Fry until they puff up and are airy and crispy; they fry up in a matter of seconds, so be prepared. Use tongs to break up and loosen the noodles as they fry. They will double in size and taste crunchy, not hard or raw. Transfer to the paper towel–lined platter to drain and then divide among four serving bowls. Carefully pour out the oil into a heat-safe container and set aside.
In a wok or large, heavy, flat-bottomed skillet, measure out 2 tablespoons of the noodle-frying oil and heat over high heat. Add the garlic and when the garlic dances, add the leeks and toss until they start to soften and char, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the crabmeat and the English peas and give a quick stir. Add the scallion sauce and toss. Add the butter and red pepper flakes and swirl to emulsify. Finish with the pea greens, mint, and basil. Toss until the pea greens wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon the crab mixture evenly over the crispy vermicelli noodle nests. Squeeze a lemon wedge over each serving and enjoy the sunshine.
From MYERS + CHANG AT HOME © 2017 by Joanne Chang with Karen Akunowicz. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.