Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Eating Crabs in Sibu

Crabs have always been a favourite food of the people of the world!

Sibu people are no different! And in fact in the past it was quite easy to get one's own crabs from the banks of the Mighty Rajang in the evenings.

Crabs were always a dish for the table whenever there was something to celebrate especially in the 60's. It was common to stir fry crabs with just thick soy sauce and eggs.When Rajang Park was started many families would go to the two open air restaurants there to enjoy a Saturday night of open air eating. Crabs would always be one of the dishes ordered. The crabs shells would be strewn all over the place and dogs would come by to sniff at them. I sort of remember that whenver we went to the open air market in the morning the smell from the rubbish bins would be horrendous. Restaurant mess was absolutely challenging.

Later on as cooks became more versatile they started cooking crabs in fancy ways like with butter and milk and fermented soy beans for example. Today Sibu has probably as many styles of cooking crabs as there are restaurants. Tastes keep on changing actually.

I often think about what the world is doing regarding crabs. Will global warming remove the delectable crab from our table?

And as everyone is thinking of a Christmas wish list mine would be to have a book about crabs on the list. It is not that I love eating crabs. It is because crabs remain the most challenging food to cook well in my opinion. It is hard to get at the flesh and there is just so much work involved before we sit down to eat it.

I will always associate crabs with this story: a father went out to the Sibu market to buy crabs to win his children's hearts. It was very sad that at the table he was told that his children were allergic to crabs. And as he sat eating the crabs he realised that he had never been part of the family and he did not know his children. He had forgotten so much about his children! It could be too late for him to win over his children who watched him eat his solitary meal.

Here are some interesting points about crabs:

Singapore's Chili Crab - well known favourite

Baked Mud Crab - a Sarawakian favourite

May be the tastiest crab in the world

The biggest crab in the world in 2008

The Blue Crab - unique and pricey (ONLY FOR THE VERY PRIVILEGED)

According to the Encyclopedia Americana [1995 edition] there are approximately 4,500 different species of crabs living on Earth. They are distributed throughout the world. It is probably impossible to tell for sure who (much less where!) ate the first crabs. Food historians tell us crabs were known to ancient Greeks and Romans.

"Renaissance...Lobster, crayfish and crab were greatly enjoyed, though they seldom reach the inland eater. At formal meals they presented difficulties. 'Crab is a slut to carve and a wrawde wight [perverse creature]. By the the the carver in a noble household had finished picking the meat out of ever claw with a knife-point, had piled it all into the 'broadshell', and had added vinegar and mixed spices, the tepid crab had to be sent back again to the kitchen to be reheated before he could offer it to his lord. Crab and lobster were also boiled and eaten cold with vinegar, as were shrimps."---ibid (p. 43-4)

Who are eating the best crabs in the world? Those who hold political power and own vast financial empires.

Those lowly ones like ourselves might just enjoy a family day out and catch some crabs in Bekenu! The best crabs are shared crab meals.

15 memories:

Yan said...

Try steam your crabs with Kuay-tew! It's yummiest!

fufu said...

the crab of "May be the tastiest crab in the world" ... yeah i had it every new year when i was in host family will buy it for hot pot =p yeah sweet and juicy~~ and i been to hokkaido, japan too... and had a eat all (crabs) you can for only RM120!!! wow... i must say GREAT!! hohoho

sarawakiana said...

Yan - I will try your recipe....I understand that white creamy crab soup mee hoon is also very good.

sarawakiana said...

Fufu - you are a lucky guy...eating Crabs in Japan and Hokkaido.....that's very privileged!
Is there a scholarship for pensioners to study in Japan for one year?

Sophia T said...

Interestingly, I live in the New England area in the States and blue crabs are abundant and relatively affordable. I like their tender and sweet taste compared to Dungenous carb from the west coast.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Sophia
(I am slowly migrating over to another blog - Sarawakiana@2).
I have heard a lot about blue crabs. May be one day I will get to go to the States and eat some of those beautiful crabs!
New England from what I have read is truly heaven!

peacemaker88 said...

I agree it is hard to bring children to eat. Mum usually cracks the crabs and puts the meat into the mouth of the kids. And when the kids grow up they do not remember the sacrifices mum made at the table. This is the reflection I have whenever I see people eating crabs.
For gifts for my mum - I buy her tinned crab meat or freeze cooked crabs and take out the meat for her. I feel good as a good boy!! hehehehe.
I enjoy your stories. Thanks.

kamaliah said...

How nice to see the photos!!
I always remember having fun eating crabs in Lawas and Mukah with friends and relatives.
Sharing food at a table with a good group and especially crabs is always fun.
The men in particular love crabs for some mystical reasons. Why don't you write about this?

I Am Sarawakiana said...


Your mum is a lucky mum to have a son like you!

I Am Sarawakiana said...

I know why men like crabs a lot.

And I agree that a good gathering in Lawas is often a crab party!!

Elsewhere crabs may be too expensive for "Crabs only party".

My friends and I recently shared a 60 ringgit plate. One each.

peter said...

malaysians can only look at any animal in terms of food.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Dear Peter
I do agree with you. Most Malaysians love food and when they look at certain edible "things" they only think of how they can eat them.
Perhaps it is also because Malaysian culinary is so world famous and interesting that being Malaysians we are naturally food loving....Being multi-racial we are also blessed by 1001 kinds of food and many culinary experts too...
Do visit again...and also

winstonz said...

Nice blog, but i'm allergic to crabs :( sad..

Christopher Christo said...

Hey Friends,

Nice to meet all of you. I was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

-Christo Pher

Ice Shaver

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