Quick crab with broccoli has an Oriental touch

Fast & Fresh

December 29, 1993|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Contributing Writer

Nina Simonds' new "China Express" cookbook is filled with vibrant and healthy flavors of the Orient taken to the fast lane. Influenced by the many years she's spent in the Orient, the acclaimed authority on Chinese cuisine has approached its dishes with her Western sensibility. The angle is fresh, the approach is health-conscious, and most ingredients are found as staples in your kitchen and certainly in your supermarket.

Crab with broccoli is a contemporary recipe that can be prepared and cooked in well under 20 minutes and uses a very minimum amount of fat. Trading fat for flavor is very doable in Asian cooking, if you are aware of the recipe's contents and learn a few tricks. Flavors can be heightened by spices, herbs, wines and robust stocks. Ms. Simonds recommends keeping her Chinese chicken broth on hand. Her broth is rich with ginger, sake and scallions, but if convenience must come first, use a good tinned broth.

Start the rice before the entree. Get organized with all the other ingredients prepped and ready to go, because cooking time is given in seconds!

The delectable dessert -- orange slices with cinnamon, brown sugar and candied ginger -- is also taken from "China Express," and again, most ingredients can be found in your pantry. To prepare, peel the oranges, cut into 1/2 -inch-thick slices and place on a serving platter. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and candied ginger and sprinkle over the oranges. Since this is best after the flavors have mingled for 15 minutes, prepare this first.

Items you should have as staples are: chicken broth, salt, sugar, sesame oil, ground white pepper, cornstarch, corn or safflower oil, scallions, rice, oranges, cinnamon, brown sugar.

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list: 1 large bunch broccoli (about 1 1/2 pounds), rice wine or sake, 1 pound lump crab meat, fresh ginger, candied ginger.

Crab with broccoli

Serves 4 to 6

1 large bunch broccoli, about 1 1/2 pounds

SAUCE:

1 cup chicken broth

2 1/2 tablespoons rice wine or sake

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 pound lump crab meat, picked over, rinsed and thoroughly drained

2 tablespoons rice wine or sake

1 1/2 tablespoons corn or safflower oil

MINCED SEASONINGS:

3 tablespoons minced scallions, white part only

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

Peel the tough skin from the broccoli stems and cut off the florets. Cut the stalks on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Heat 1/2 -inch of water in a skillet until boiling, add the broccoli stems and florets, cover with a lid and steam for 3 minutes or until just tender. Drain off water and then refresh under cold running water. Reserve. Dry skillet. Combine the sauce ingredients and blend well. Heat the same skillet until hot, add the crab meat and stir-fry over high heat for 30 seconds. Add the rice wine and cook for about 30 seconds longer.

Remove crab and reheat the pan. Add the corn or safflower oil and heat until hot. Add the minced seasonings and stir-fry over high heat for about 10 seconds until fragrant. Add the sauce mixture and cook, stirring constantly to prevent lumps, until thickened. Add the broccoli and crab meat, toss lightly and transfer to a platter. Serve immediately.

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