Mien Xao Cua (Glass noodles w/crab & mushrooms)
I have been craving this dish for months…impatiently waiting for crab season to start. Since my brother and I wouldn’t be together for Thanksgiving, we celebrated early with Crabsgiving! (exclamation points required). I purposefully bought a few extra crabs so that I’d have enough left over to make mien xao cua, a dish my mom used to make for special occasions.
Growing up, my mom’s version was loaded with chewy noodles, crunchy wood ear mushrooms, sweet sauteed onions, cilantro and tons of pepper. She probably used white pepper but my black pepper grinder works a lot better so I used black. I don’t have her recipe but a Google search gave me a rough idea of what to do.
This one is a true Vietnamese “recipe”–as in everything is a rough approximation. Crabwise, I had 2 bodies and some legs which yielded maybe 1.5-2 cups of meat. You could also use canned crab, which is never as delicious. If you have the tomalleys (brains!), great. If you don’t, use fish sauce for additional flavor. I didn’t have any cilantro but it would have been nice for color and flavor.
Mien Xao Cua (~4 servings)
- 1 steamed crab, picked meat + tomalley (or use fish sauce if no tomalley)
- 3 small bunches of cellophane/bean thread noodles
- handful of sliced wood ear mushrooms
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 small white onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 Tbsp oyster sauce
- 1-2 cups chicken broth
- cilantro, chiffonade
- salt & pepper to taste
- lime wedges
- Soak wood ear mushrooms in hot water for ~30 minutes. Soak noodles in warm water until pliable (be careful not to oversoak–you’ll cook later)
- In a wok, heat oil and sautee garlic, shallots, onions and (drained) wood ear mushrooms until onions are soft and sweet. Season with salt & pepper, stir in oyster sauce.
- Add (drained) noodles and 1 cup of chicken broth (enough to steam noodles but not enough to make it soupy). Add more if necessary.
- Stir noodles around until almost cooked through (shouldn’t take long). Taste and add more oyster sauce or a dash fish sauce if needed.
- Add crab meat & tomalley. Mix everything together and serve as soon as the noodles are done.
- Add plenty of black pepper and garnish with cilantro. Squeeze some lime over if you want.