Gong Xi Fah Tsaii

In food on 01/25/2009 at 2:50 pm

Hong Bao Na Lai 红包拿来! Ah, if only the second line were still applicable. Money in red envelopes was the highlight of this holiday when I was a kid. Last night was our Chinese New Year’s celebration. Usually we head down to Chinatown for a Malaysian feast at Nonya, but yesterday we ate lunch at Overseas Taste restaurant in the east side of the neighborhood beyond Manhattan bridge, where the tourists don’t roam, before heading back to the more well-known section to shop for goodies for our potluck dinner hosted by our Puerto Rican/Singporean friends.

The menu for the evening’s feast:

Roasted duck breast
Cantonese char siu pork
Steamed Bread
Singapore Chili Crab
Bee Tai Buhck
Spanish tortilla
Thai carrot salad
Yu-sheng salad
Red velvet cake

My belly is still in the grips of euphoria. There’s an annual springtime Chili Crab festival in DUMBO, but I’ve always had a distaste for eating crab, too messy in public and not worth the trouble in private. I do, however, really enjoy the sauce that accompanies the dish. The souvenir I covet from this event is a tiny stuffed crab with the recipe for the famous dish attached to one of its legs. Every time I see it perched on my bookshelf, I get a craving for the sweet sour savory sauce.

I still recall the chili crab my Singaporean foodie friend made over 5 years ago when I scarfed down several bowls of rice topped with the sauce. (Traditionally, the British influenced the use of crusty bread as an accompaniment. I find soggy bread is not appetizing, despite its chewiness). No other sauce has been comparable, not even at the festival run by his island compatriots. Last night, I finally learned the secrets of this highly-coveted special sauce.

Eagerly, I adapted the recipe for today’s lunch, sans prickly crabs. The sauce is the thing that makes this dish, and my friend actually confessed he made it last week with lobster, which got the cogs in my brain churning. While my champagne tastes have not caught up with my wallet size, I reasoned why not combine two of my favorite dishes, and if I wanted to splurge, add some sort of easily edible affordable seafood like shrimp or scallop to the dish? Naturally, Chili Crab a lá Bee Tai Buhck was born.

bee tai buhck


Garlic (mash up a bunch of cloves)

ground fatty pork and/or seafood (use the GFP first as a reservoir for lard and flavor, add seafood at the end)

Bean sprouts

Chives or Scallion, cut to same length as sprouts

Carb: Silver Needle rice noodle or rice (this dish can be one-pot with noodle incorporated, or as an accompaniment in a more formal banquet, with rice)

Tomato wedges

Eggs to coat (scramble in small bowl and set aside)


Chili (Sriracha, add sugar, or if you use Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce, use less ketchup)

Ginger, grated (At Kamman, we purchased a cute palm-sized porcelain grater, which is a cheap version of the wasabi shark skin type. This method of grating is more gentle on the root than using its stainless steel cousins)

Shrimp sauce (The great purple wonder sold in jars in most Asian supermarkets. Good for Vietnamese soups too, and reminiscent of asam laksa)


Soy sauce


Sesame Oil


Salt & Pepper

Saute chopped garlic until fragrant, add pork and stir fry until browned. Mix sauce ingredients and taste before adding to pot. Adjust flavors as necessary. Add silver noodle and mix until almost translucent. Add seafood of choice, bean sprouts, tomatoes and chives. (If you want to go traditional, add crab, split at the body, hammered gently to crack shell, with pork step above, and saute until shells turn mostly red) Stir about 1 min. Add egg, let sit 1 min and incorporate gently into dish. If sauce is too runny, dissolve cornstarch before adding to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste.




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