Last week, I posted my experience with Bee Yinn Low’s recipe for Sichuan crawfish from her site Rasa Malaysia. As I wrote in that post, the reason I tried Low’s recipe was because of a certain ingredient. For some reason, in his book Momofuku, nearly every one of David Chang’s recipes calls for usukuchi soy sauce. Well, I never turn down an reason to buy more random pantry ingredients, but this one turned out to be a little difficult to find.
After checking both the local Chinese and Japanese groceries and a number of websites, I eventually found a bottle of Yamasa usukuchi soy sauce on Efood Depot.
So, after finally receiving a shipment of the elusive soy sauce, I’m ready to take a crack at David Chang’s recipe for Sichuan Crawfish.
Here’s what I was looking for.
Yep, if I saw this in a grocery store, I would have no idea what I’m looking at.
Luckily there’s an English label slapped on the back. So this is used to preserve the color and flavor of foods? Odd since the Wikipedia page states that “it is both saltier and lighter in color than koikuchi.” Koikuchi being the average Japanese soy sauce, just an fyi. I wouldn’t think that preserving flavor and saltier work together but I digress.
Like last time the crawfish were purged, but now we’re working with 4 pounds instead of Low’s recommended 2.
Here are the rest of the ingredients: 2 tbs Sichuan peppercorn, 30 dried chile peppers, ¼ cup usukuchi soy sauce and ¼ cup neutral oil. With double the peppercorn and chilies, I’m hoping these crawfish will pack the punch that I’m looking for.
I can’t forget the star of the show.
I put a wok over high heat and added the ¼ cup oil.
With the oil hot, I added the peppercorns
It was just a few seconds until the oil was aromatic.
Here’s the finished product.
They look pretty good with the flash.
So what do they taste like? Well I didn’t get that fiery punch that I was looking for and I’m not sure what was so special about the usukuchi soy sauce. Looking back over the recipe, Chang says to use 2 pans, but are you supposed to use 1 set of the ingredients per pan or divided the amounts equally? With plenty of crawfish season left, I’m sure I’ll have time to figure out which method I’m supposed to use and hopefully find that burning spice that I’m looking for.
- A few weeks, actually a few months later:
It’s now March, and I finally got around to taking another crack at David Chang’s recipe for Sichuan Crawfish. After some deliberation, I decided to go with the idea of one set of ingredients per pan. That means 4 tbs of Sichuan peppercorns, 60 dried chilies, ½ cup of usukuchi soy sauce and ½ cup of a neutral oil.
First came another 4 pounds of crawfish from the Crawfish Hut.
Next my two big woks were heated to near melting point on my stove and after adding the peppercorns and chilies, in went the crawfish.
It was interesting trying to manage two woks at once, but in a little more than 4 minutes, the crawfish were ready.
Number of chilies aside, how did it turn out?
There still isn’t the variety of flavors like with Rasa Malaysia’s recipe, but you can definitely feel the effects of the Sichuan peppercorns. It’s actually a little odd to taste crawfish with so few seasonings on them, it really gives you an appreciation for the taste of the tail meat. I think the bottom line is that I’m still not entirely satisfied with either method, but I wholeheartedly support the idea of 2 pans and double the ingredients with the Chang recipe.