Sushu has an awesome recipe, which she learned from her dad (an amazing cook) for Dungeoness crab and tofu in broth. A couple weekends ago, Ranch 99 (giant Chinese supermarket near here) was having a sale on live Dungeoness crabs so we made it together, slowly dissecting the boiled crabs and throwing all the good bits into a bowl.
You know that mysterious yellow stuff inside a crab? It looks like mustard? In this recipe, the yellow stuff (which in Chinese is called xiehuang 蟹黄, meaning just "crab yellow") is separated and used to flavor the broth. The yellow stuff gives the dish its wonderfully rich, savory flavor. Crabmeat, nice as it is, is kind of bland by itself. But with the yellow stuff it becomes delicious.
But what the heck is the yellow stuff? It's not fat, it's not muscle, it's not eggs. It's different from the white goopy mayonnaise-like stuff that you also sometimes find inside crabs, which is nasty and should be thrown away. ("We want the mustard, not the mayonnaise" says Sushu.)
I looked it up and found that the yellow stuff is the crab's hepatopancreas, an organ which performs the function of both a pancreas (generating chemicals used in digestion) and a liver (filtering out toxins). If a crab comes from polluted waters, the toxins are most concentrated in the heptapancreas, so you have to be careful about eating it.
Hepatopancreas! Isn't that a fun word? I'm going to say it every chance I get.
We bought this thing at the Mountain View farmer's market a couple months ago. I had never seen or heard of one before. The lady who was selling them said it's called a "romanesco".
Behold its fractal logarithmic spiral symmetry! Coooooool...
As alien as it looks, it's just a less common relative of broccoli and cauliflower.
We stir-fried it and put it in a curry. It was maa-maa.
Two weeks in Illinois
Just got back from 2 weeks in Illinois. Since I'm
unemployed "in a pre-revenue startup", I can't afford to fly home for every holiday like I did in past years, so I went for a longer visit at Thanksgiving in exchange for not visiting at Halloween or Christmas. Mom is disappointed, of course, and so am I. The underlying unhappiness here is the unavoidable result of marrying someone from the other side of the country, so there may be no good answer, but I promised to do weekly video chat and to come visit again in June.
Fun stuff I did in Chicago:
- Hiking in the autumn woods at the Morton Arboretum and at Starved Rock with Mom & Dad
- Cooking with the family! After a trip to the Korean grocery store I made tom yum, green Thai curry, miso soup, and braised daikon/lotus root. Of course we made Thanksgiving dinner together too; they did a brined/smoked turkey on the grill, and I hand-braided a pumpkin pie crust
- Meeting Cat, Kent, and Jonathan in Hyde Park for board games
- Learning to play "Always" (the song from Robot Unicorn Attack) as a guitar-accordion duet with Stephen, and meeting his gonzo Homestuck-fan roommates
- Hanging out with Atul again at our old favorite tea-house, talking Mozilla Foundation and having great Russian food with him his dad
- Meeting Jon's roommates and girlfriend, tossing a Frisbee around and playing a Magic: The Gathering "Commander" free-for-all that was a total nostalgia trip
- Passing the Wiimote back&forth with Aleksa to beat Zelda: Twilight Princess together. (After a year of Minecraft being our main game, it feels weird to play a game that's always telling us where to go and what to do! What is this, a job?)
- Helping Aleksa figure out how record screencasts and how to get started modding Minecraft, which might just be the thing that gets her into programming
- Watching Adventure Time and talking like Lumpy Space Princess
- Finding out that Kristin's been doing work for the Onion's video production arm, and watching their videos together (like their spoof of TED talks and spoof reality show Sex House).