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Jun 29, 2009 12:40 PM

Brains! (crab or lobster)

Maybe it's on account of I've been watching too many episodes of the Japanese Iron Chef lately, but I'm hankering for a nice spicy dish made with crab and/or lobster brains. Maybe a good Szechuan shellfish stew in Chinatown? They never list the ingredients on the menu, but I'm sure some of them are brain-y. I'm trying to get some brains in me for less than the cost of flying to Tokyo just to go to one of Chen Kenichi's places.

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  1. Great post. Then you just HAVE TO TRY THIS. In Flushing, I forget the avenue, right off Main Street, there's a Chinese restaurant. Forgot the name. It's on the same block as Joe's Shanghai. 1 story only. Opposite the side of Hong Kong Supermarket. I tried a dish there made with crabmeat, shells (which contain some brains or membrain) and sticky rice. It's served in a large bamboo container. It's not spicy at all, which may not do it for you. But you can always ask them to try to make it spicy, or add hot sauce later. But if I'm correct in understanding what you mean by crab brains (the gook or membrane that's left in or stuck to the shell), then you may enjoy this. I think it's a pricey dish. I didn't pay, my relatives did. Or go to any Cantonese restaurant and order stir-fried or sauteed crab or lobster. And make sure they serve them with the shells intact (or head, in case of a lobster). Again, Cantonese cooking is typically not-spicy. You'll have to make a special request or add your own condiments. Alternatively, try a Hunan or Szechuan-style Chinese restaurant, where the cuisine is by default spicy. And order whole crabs or lobsters there. Bon appetit! Let me know how it goes...

    6 Replies
    1. re: nooyawka

      nooyawka, I believe you're describing the dungeness crab with glutinous rice at Imperial Palace...

      ...which isn't quite the equal of their snow pea leaves with crabmeat sauce...

      But sgordon, neither of these is brainy in the way you mean. A Haitian-born friend once showed me how to dig out a fish brain using one of its bones, and even though we were working on a decent-size fish and I was very diligent, the fruits of my labors were dwarfed by the first joint of my thumb. Fish have small brains, crabs and lobsters, very small brains. What's described on some Japanese menus as crab brains is, I believe, a catch-all for everything edible that's not meat.

      Though I haven't tried it myself, kanimiso, from the "caviar" section of the menu at Morimoto, might be a place to start, nooyawka.

      1. re: DaveCook

        When speaking of "brains" , are you refering to the tomalley?

        1. re: daveyj

          Again, I'm not sure what the menus mean when they mention "brains," nor whether sgordon is really looking for brains per se. It's very possible that the tomalley, the delicious green goo that functions like a liver when the crab is alive, is what he's after.

        2. re: DaveCook

          Yeah! mmm...You're right - it's the dungeness crab with glutinous rice Oh so it's Imperial Palace. The pictures made me so hungry. Thanks for the pix and suggestions.

          The Cantonese are known (some anyway) for preferring crab shells with the membranes that are stuck to the inside of the shell. They have a term - sounds just like the word "go". You have to pick at the "go" in the shell, or scrape it off. It tends to be orangeish/yellowish. I don't know what it is exactly, but I love that stuff, although it's reputed to be very high in fat and cholesterol.

          1. re: nooyawka

            You should also try the same dungeness crab with sweet rice dish at Ocean Jewels in Flushing. It's a much better version than the one at Imperial Palace, IMO.

            1. re: E Eto

              Will definitely keep in mind. Thanks!