Monday, August 29, 2016

An ExtraVaGanzza Gourmet Seafood Feast of A Weekend...

Crab, lobster, fish, shrimps, scallops, abalone... Oh my! Wow, what an exceptional gourmet seafood feast of a weekend it was starting on Friday with an eight course crab dinner, and then a ten course premium Chinese banquet dinner loaded with top seafood dishes Saturday. 

Friday was a girl's night out with my dear lovely friend Eve and she was craving succulent crab.... snow crab to be exact and we were both dying to try Crab Harbour in Richmond Hill, Toronto. I couldn't wait to get these tastebuds' party started...

Photo Credit: Crab Harbour

My pal Eve and I

The glass dining tables displayed a sandbox underneath reminiscent of the beach adorned with various size shells and pretty starfish. 

Steamed cold snow crab started the tasting, with thin forks to scoop out the flaky flesh to dip into sweet vinegar and a hearty spoonful of pureed crab paste to enjoy.

Steamed Cold Snow Crab

Marinated Octopus with Wasabi Stem served wrapped in Nori Sheets

Crab Egg Custard (Chawan Mushi) with Crab Paste and Udon

With our heart's set on snow crab, we were disappointed that the restaurant did not serve it as part of the centre meal (an overall shortage in supply) so we settled on crystal crab, hailing from Australia that has a firm flaky textured, succulent white flesh with a distinctive sweet taste. These crabs are best steamed and used in hot pot.

This baby weighed about four pounds!

Steam steam baby! And served on top of seafood-flavoured egg custard thinly baked onto the plate.

Meat was firm but flaky

Spider Roll made with deep-fried crab

Shabu Shabu is a hot pot course, cooking first the morsels of chopped crab in a seafood broth, removed, then soup filled with all kinds of vegetables from chrysanthemum to enoki mushrooms, tofu, nappa cabbage to vermicelli. The cooked crab is served with ponzu-- a yuzu citrus flavoured tangy soy sauce complementing the sweet meat. 

Shabu Shabu with Crab

Rice or udon noodles is added to the flavourful broth and egg is then swished and drizzled into the hot soup for a congee finish to the filling meal (a typical ending to many course meals in Japan). Thinly sliced green onions and nori finesses... Deeelish and comforting! And then the meal capped off with a sweet ending- ice cream.

Crab Congee

And the eating frenzy continued on Saturday at my cousin's mom-in-law's 90th birthday at a Chinese banquet restaurant Casa Deluz in Scarborough, Toronto. Banquet menus are shareable between wedding and birthday celebrations, and with each incredible dish served graced with high-end seafood in sequence, there was no question a premium menu was selected for this fine occasion. 

Chinese banquet food has special symbolism: mostly wishes of happiness, longevity, or fertility. At a birthday banquet, nine dishes are served with noodles at the end not including dessert to signify longevity. The words for “nine” and “long” are homophones, words that sound the same but have different meanings. Although the dishes served are similar for birthday and wedding celebrations, their symbolism differs. The following is the auspicious take for a birthday festive union, which is mainly celebrated for someone's later-in-life age milestone such as 60, 70, 80, 90 plus.

My boyz!

The nine course meal started with the ping poon-- a cold appetizer dish to whet the appetite. Typically it consists of roasted suckling pig and jellyfish duo but it can also have other deli meats such as roasted duck, BBQ pork, cured pork slices and vegetarian bean curd slices. Roasted suckling pig symbolizes peace and purification. Its incredible crispy roasted skin is offset by the slightly chewy noodle-like jellyfish. A perfect and popular taste combination.

Roasted Suckling Pig with Jellyfish

Stuffed crab claw are loved by children especially with its convenient claw for handling and of course chomping into its deep-fried breaded luscious shrimp mousse filling. The Chinese word for shrimps ha sounds like laughter. Dipped into red vinegar, its a taste sensation close to heaven for many :)

Deep-Fried Stuffed Crab Claw

All round or coin-shaped foods such as scallops and shrimps in this dish symbolizes prosperity, completeness, perfection, family unity, and continuity. Shrimps also represent liveliness. Vegetables indicate strong family ties and here there were enoki mushrooms, snap peas, celery and carrots.

Stir-Fried Shrimp, Scallop and Vegetables

Shark fin and crab are considered premium delicacies and are served to indicate wealth.

Shark Fin and Crab Thick Soup

Vegetables represents close family ties. Seasonal green Chinese vegetables such as mustard greens and snow pea shoots symbolize money while abalone is a festive luxury food. The Chinese word for abalone bao yu sounds similar to “assurance of wealth”, thus wishing prosperity and good fortune. 

Braised Abalone and Snow Pea Shoots

The chicken is served whole with the head because it represents togetherness, completeness and also for prosperity and rebirth. The chicken is steamed and served with a ground ginger and green onion oil condiment.

Steamed Chicken 

Lobster for a birthday setting represents joy, energy and spirit. Anything red in Chinese means good luck so even more reason to celebrate an occasion with lobster. Another lobster dish which is more popularly served is sauteed with green onions and ginger. 

Stir-Fried Lobster in Maggi Sauce

Fish is, to ensure long life and good fortune. A whole fish represents togetherness and abundance as the Chinese word for fish Yu, rhymes with the word for 'surplus.' Two fish signifies double the good blessings.

Double Sea Bass with Soy, Ginger and Onions

The last course is always a duo rice and noodle dish to finish the savoury meal. Noodles should be served uncut as they represent long life, while rice represents luck and wealth.

Yeung Chow Fried Rice and Mushroom E-Fu Noodles

Sweets!  The red bean dessert represents the sweetness of life and happiness (and again it’s red for good luck)! The sticky rice coconut mango dessert indicates togetherness (sticking together) with more red bean in the jelly to signify happiness.

Red Bean Soup, Coconut Mango Rolls and Coconut Red Bean Jelly

Lotus seeds represent a full wallet and the yellow mellow sweet paste is made from lotus flower seeds. The steamed bao (fluffy bun) is shaped and coloured to resemble peaches since the peach represents long life. What a beautiful and delicious dessert to complement a 90th birthday milestone celebration!

Lotus Paste Buns 

A reunion with my cousins (three in centre with me).


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