Hokkaido in Japan is famous for four different varieties of crab, but the hairy crab (named for its hairy claws) is considered by many to be the sweetest and most delicate. In this dish, served at two Michelin-starred Kappo Okada, the natural sweetness of the crab is accentuated by smoking it with houjicha green tea, and serving it with nutty brown rice and the light, bursting texture of salmon roe.
- ¼ cup houjicha green tea leaves
- 1 Hokkaido hairy crab
- ½ tsp rice vinegar
- ⅓ cup salmon roe
- 1 tsp light soy sauce, plus extra to season
- 1 tsp dried shiso or dried basil
Cooked brown rice (see note)
- 2 cups brown short-grain Japanese rice
- 3 cups (750 ml) water
Simmered hijiki seaweed
- 3 g dried hijiki seaweed
- 100 ml kombu dashi stock
- 5 ml light soy sauce
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time overnight
You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.
To make the cooked brown rice, wash the rice well. Soak in the water overnight, then cook according to the packet directions for regular white rice.
Meanwhile, to make the simmered hijiki seaweed, soak the dry seaweed in plenty of water, until reconstituted. Mix together the dashi stock and soy sauce. Add the seaweed and cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes or until the liquid is evaporated. Allow to cool.
To cook the crab, line a wok or saucepan with foil and add the tea leaves. Heat over high until the leaves begin to steam. Turn off the heat and place a rack over the smoking leaves. Place the crab on the rack and cover with a lid or bowl. Smoke the crab for 10 minutes, then pick the meat from the shell.
Scoop the tomalley (soft, green substance) from the crab’s head and mix with the vinegar.
Dress the salmon roe with the soy sauce. Mix the simmered hijiki seaweed with enough brown rice to taste, and season with additional soy sauce.
To serve, place a small mound of the hijiki rice on a plate, top with the picked crab and dress with the vinegared tomalley. Add the dressed salmon roe on top and sprinkle with the dried shiso.
• You will not need the entire quantity of rice in this recipe – it does make extra so you can combine it according to taste.