Who knew that so many wonderful flavors could be contained in that undersea armor? Now I know why little medieval knights were so appealing to dragons: crisp them up nicely, and they could take pleasure in plucking the delectables out with a dragon-sized toothpick.
And now you have a sneak peek into my morbid food associations.
We had a special treat while on a road trip along the eastern coast of Korea: the dae gae of Yeongdeok. Nope, not a little medieval knight (fortunately - since I'd probably eat that, too), but the aptly-named "bamboo crab" of the Pacific - Korea's version of the king crab with stalk-like legs. Yeongdeok is known for this delicacy, and they appear to know it - most restaurants have giant crab effigies wrapped around the exterior of the building or overseeing the entrances. And seafood markets display tanks upon tanks of the reddish-brown crustaceans (it is crab season there, much like Dungeness season here in the Bay Area). I'd say we passed 50-75 crab markets and restaurants on one street alone as we headed for the central seafood market in town.
There, Dave's mom deftly picked out three of the fattest dae gae she could find, and the lady behind the counter tossed them into a basket and led us up a slippery set of steps to a gentleman manning three giant steaming bins. We left our 3 treasures with him and went inside the adjoining restaurant to await our feast. This was no-frills dining: the waiter (who couldn't have been older than 14) spread a piece of thin plastic over the table, tossed down a couple large bowls containing spoons, chopsticks and bowls for water and told us to sit.
And the result? Incredibly flavorful, sweet-salty meat - remarkably, no seasonings were added so you could eat it directly out of the shell (good thing...I don't think I could have stopped stuffing my face). The waiter took the body shells away and returned with them stuffed with rice mixed with crab butter and seasoned seaweed. Uh, HELLO. I thought it couldn't get any better! Read on for pics of our dining adventure/heaven!