What a happy weekend. I saw the classic colors of America hanging off windows, billowing in the wind, painted onto teenage girl’s shorts, and popping up from windowsill planters. Happy Memorial Day Weekend, everyone! I hope you had a lovely time. All over social media I happily devoured (visually) celebrations over barbecue, fresh blooms signifying spring, trips to the beach, freshly caught salmon, making cheese, moments with family and friends, pie, and so many other precious visual stories that I just wanted to tuck away into a virtual scrapbook, for my inspiration continually and always will come from you.
I do realize that I keep saying this, but I don’t care – I’ll keep on saying it to truly emphasize how much I value the community I’m somehow lucky enough to be in. Making connections and relationships mean the world to me. At the risk of sounding like a stalker, reading about others’ stories and learning about them through their recipe stories is a treasured part of my experience blogging. Some of my non-blogging friends think that the only part I do for my blog is to make the recipe, photograph it, and publish it. But that’s not it!!!! That’s only a small (albeit time-consuming) part that I love – it’s a creative outlet, but what means so much more sentimentally is all the people I’ve come to meet, whether in real life or online. I used to be pretty shy, a quiet lurker who didn’t comment and never reached out. I finally started reaching out to bloggers I admired, and honestly it felt like bungee jumping – you want to do it, but when your toes are right on the precipice, you get so scared and sometimes you just need that push. But since I started to make connections and made some awesome friends (who also gave me some pretty amazing advice), blogging became that much more enjoyable. I think just having people to talk to who understand what you go through makes a big difference. I’m so so so humbled by all the connections and friendships I’ve made, and I’m over-the-moon excited to meet some of these people in real life!! This sounds silly, but I almost feel like through reading someone’s writing, I can get a glimpse into their personality.
Excuse me while I gush for a while: well, first, I’m still on a high over our last edible flower event. Second, because of the success and requests for an actual teaching photography workshop, Meg and I partnered up with Farm and Fable for a comprehensive, hands-on photography, styling workshop followed by a SOWA luncheon and prop sourcing outing, and we sold out. SOLD OUT. Within a couple of hours of announcing publicly. I barely had time to post on instagram before we only had 2 seats left. We’ve started a waitlist and are super eager about doing more in the future. Third, because I met up with Austin of Tea and Stories, a wonderful creative writer who bakes delicious-sounding bread and to whom a short run is 30 miles!!! We’d talked online a couple of times and bonded over tea and photography, but our first time meeting in person was during the flower event. We met up this Saturday and honestly, it felt like we were already friends. We grabbed iced tea and walked around the South End until we ran into a gorgeous little park with a field of giant French tulips. Fourth, because Meg and I had a lovely evening with Carey and Eva. They are SO SO nice and awesome and down to earth. I’m a little star-struck, to be honest. Fifth, because I finally booked flights to California bay area in mid-July and am super excited to hang out with a bunch of awesome folks!!!!!! Sixth, I just feel happy because the weather is good, I cracked some coconuts open to wring out some milk (post soon!), I gave my dog Annie a bath, and I had LOBSTER THIS WEEKEND! And corn, which I’m obsessed with. And, I started my first fermentation process: KIMCHI. Which is fermenting quite nicely right now.
I used to go to a restaurant called Boiling Crab, which is a cajun-style seafood boil spot. The line would be an hour to two hours of waiting, and we would always order a bag of shrimp with corn, sausage, and potatoes. The shrimp arrived in a plastic bag and everything was drenched in a buttery spicy sauce called “The Whole Shebang”. We tied bibs around our necks and just plunged our hands into the bag. Invariably, we’d get sauce all over our hands, smudges around our mouths, and the smell of butter and garlic stayed in our hair and clothes for days. But it was good. It was really, really good. That was my first introduction to a boil. My second was when I was in New Orleans. I could not leave without doing a craw-fish boil, and it. WAS. LIFE-CHANGING. SO GOOD. I can’t wait to return and I’m jealous that Meg is going next week!!!
These boils are apparently a very normal, popular group activity. Where have I been? Oh yeah, eating dumplings and stuff :). I did some research and decided to do a blue crab boil. Before you email me telling me I made a typo, let me say that I really tried to get live blue crabs. I couldn’t find ANY. I tried both Chinese supermarkets, where live seafood are aplenty. I went to several seafood and fish companies, all of which had lobsters, but no live blue crabs. They had frozen crab legs, etc, etc, but I wanted some live sea creatures. I ended up getting clams and lobsters, because hey, I won’t say no to lobsters.
As for my base, I did what my family usually does: add fresh ginger, garlic, scallions, and some chiles for seasoning. And then I dumped some gochugaru flakes and some sichuan peppercorns, because why not bump up the heat a bit?
It turned out SO GOOD. I boiled the lobster and clam first, then did the potato/corn. Wow, you can really taste the seasonings. I did make a spicy-butter sauce for dipping, but sometimes I omitted the sauce. When you bite into the corn, you get a subtle numbing around the edges of your mouth, and you feel the heat after you bite into the sweet corn. The sweetness of the kernels and the subtle bite of heat pair extremely well together.
RECIPE: Lobster / Clam Boil with Sichuan Peppers
I learned about boils a lot via Honestly Yum and Serious Eats. I have 3 lobsters at 4.3 lbs – approximately 1.5 lbs/lobster.. so I cooked at 11 minutes. The clams were only in for 6 minutes. Make sure the clams are open. If some clams did not open, toss them away. The thing about these boils is you can customize it in any way you want. I’ve seen these with no spice – just some old bay seasoning or even just salt/pepper. You can add sausages, which is a classic and a must for some. You can use potatoes or not. You can just have a butter sauce for dipping, or use no sauce at all. I used clams and lobsters, but I can easily imagine crabs and shrimp, or shrimp and crawfish. Play around with it, do what you prefer!
3 live lobsters (or equivalent in crabs)
1.5 lbs clam (or equivalent in shrimp)
5 ears corn, shucked and halved
½ lb small potatos –or more.
2 medium-sized onions, quartered
3 slices fresh ginger
2 stalks scallion, roughly chopped
4-5 dried chiles (optional)
2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorn (optional)
2.5 tbsp gochugaru (optional)
2 heads garlic, the point part sliced off
1.5 sticks butter
2 tsp gochugaru (korean chile flakes)
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1| Fill a large stock pot, large enough to fit your lobsters, with water.
2| Bring to a boil and liberally salt water and add seasonings.
3| Add ginger, garlic, onion, and scallions into the water. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, you can start sauce:
4| Melt butter, add in garlic till aromatic, then add in seasoning – simmer on low u for another 5 minutes.
5| Cook lobsters according to average weight on all lobsters. I did 11 minutes.
6| Tie clams very loosely with cheese cloth. This is to prevent clam meat from sinking to the bottom of the pot.
7| When there are 7 minutes left to lobster, add in clams – watch to see when they open up.
8| Remove lobster. Cool lobster for 10 minutes.
9| Add in potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, then add corn and boil another 5 minutes, and remove potatoes when fork tender.
10| Drain the rest of the items in the pot, and dump onto newspaper or disposable plastic cloth. Prepare lots of paper towels, a cold drink, and just have fun. Oh, and definitely have a waste bucket for cobs and shell.