If you’ve heard me rave about Fatty Crab you know I speak of it in a hushed, reverential tone. Like I’m in church. Because I’m quite sure if you believe in a higher power of any ilk that that he/she is hanging out in the kitchen at Fatty Crab helping make the most delicious, innovative (hate that word, but it works for now) food EVER! And their Chili Crab is so ridiculously good I want to roll around in the sauce. Not a particularly appealing visual, but that’s how I feel.
Now that we’ve moved to Portland and there is no Fatty Crab (which makes me very sad indeed. I’ve asked them to come to Portland. Waiting to hear back) I need to find other ways to get my Fatty Crab fix.
Enter ‘Eat with Your Hands’ by Zakary Pelaccio – Founder of Fatty Crab and Fatty Cue. (Mr. Moose has been to Fatty Cue. I have not. I am trying to get over it.) This book is a brilliant compilation of stories, recipes, tips, beautiful images. It’s a bit of a challenge to sum up what Fatty Crab is all about. So I’ll let Zackary (like he’s my pal) tell you….
‘In 2005, I opened Fatty Crab, a small rollicking restaurant in the West Village. I knew exactly what I wanted. A grubby storefront restaurant where, as soon as you walked in, you knew that you were going to drink more than you should and where new flavors, pungent profiles and entertaining texture would bombard your mouth and completely fuck all your food-centric preconceptions.’
The food is Malaysian influenced which really doesn’t tell you a lot since I’m guessing ‘Malaysian influenced’ isn’t particularly common. Actually it’s anything but common. It’s kind of, sort of a blend of Chinese, Portuguese, Indian, and Indonesian deliciousness.
Imagine…Lobster Wontons with XO Sauce (don’t you totally want to know what the XO sauce is made of?) Caramel Pork with Hong Kong Noodles, Braised Belly with Crispy Shrimp. Drool.
This cookbook is not for the faint of heart. Actually the restaurant probably isn’t either. But dare to eat there, dare to make recipes from the book. The book is daunting. The recipes are complex and involve many ingredients you may not have just hanging out in your pantry like Thai Bird Chilies, Sambal Aioli, crab paste, frogs, live Dungeness crabs, Sambal Belecan (I actually made this). The recipes are involved. There are steps. Many steps. Toasting, mashing, sauteeing, soaking, seasoning, brining.
And there are also a lot of ingredients that you do have in your pantry or fridge like garlic, soy sauce, ginger, rice vinegar. And the recipes are extremely well written, broken down in very clearly defined steps and easy to follow. Zackary (or should I call him Chef or Mr. Pellacio?) went to a lot of effort to make these recipes ‘doable.’ He includes a condiment section, a glossary in case you don’t know if assam gelugor or cincalok are ingredients or foreign countries.
Next…My adventures in making Chili Crab. Until next time…Moose out