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Crabstock - the origins of a love affair with crabs
Soho is gearing up for summer – the tentative rays of sun are already alighting on Brewer Street, and our awning offers welcome shade. Inside, the rotisserie chickens rotate like little golden rugby balls, making the tummies of anyone nearby rumble with desire. And in the kitchen, hear the sizzling of seafood and cooking crustaceans…
Crabstock is in full swing down at Randall and Aubin!
Our crispy soft shell crab Singapore style on an Asian salad has gone down a storm – who couldn’t love that tender crab flesh coated in batter and served with an Asian salad, or raw vegeatbles and a ponzu sauce? But should we actually be calling it Malaysian crab?? You see, there is an accusation of a case of recipe hijacking going on here…
In September 2009, the Tourism Minister of Malaysia Ng Yen Yen, claimed that the chilli crab actually has its roots in her country – and that other places around the globe were guilty of stealing Malaysian dishes! But before we all get up in arms, then there hasn’t actually been any evidence put forward to support this controversial announcement. In fact, Singapore were quick to beat down these outrageous claims, as they consider chilli crab to be Singapore’s national dish. 
Apparently, it was invented in 1956 when Cher Yam Tian added chilli sauce to her existing recipe of stir fried crab with bottled tomato sauce – and the famous meal was born! She began selling it from a pushcart and it was so popular that soon it warranted a non-mobile restaurant in Palm Beach.  And soft shell crab recipes have been found in American cook books way back in the 1800s. 
Archeologists tell us we’ve been eating crabs and other crustaceans since Prehistoric times. But there are about 4500 species of crab distributed throughout the entire world! So finding out exactly who chowed down first is a bit tricky. Through art and literature we know that crabs were eaten by the Ancient Greeks and Romans (although whether they actually enjoyed it is another issue – apparently ancient sources suggest they were not eaten enthusiastically. Obviously they weren’t washing it down with Randall and Aubin champers!)
In Great Britain we’ve been enjoying crabs since the Stone Age, when they were thought to have been taken from the deep waters off Oronsay and Oban with plaited baskets. They were sold by fishmongers on the medieval period, and during the Renaissance they were enjoyed – although they did have their difficulties. One reference in literature claims ‘Crab is a slut to carve and a wrawde wight.’ Wondering what this means? A perverse creature, apparently!
So what’s next? Well, coming up soon we have some crab cakes, which are best known for their association with Maryland and Chesapeake Bay area. But did you know that primary evidence suggests that crab-cake style dishes were introduced to the colonies by English settlers. Huzzah!
See, there’s a lot of history behind these be-shelled beasts. But the proof is in the tasting. As Caesar said – “I came, I saw, I #GotCrabs!”

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