Saturday, July 26, 2014

IKEA (Swedish Crayfish Party) - Burbank

IKEA (Swedish Crayfish Party) - Burbank 1

The first time I heard about IKEA's Swedish Crayfish Party, I was going out of town to Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado. The subsequent years, it's either been sold out or I forgot about it entirely. I was determined to go at least once!

C'mon, $9.99 (with my IKEA family member discount) for all-you-can-eat crawfish? I'm sooo there!

Now, y'all know I love my crayfish, but what exactly is a Swedish crayfish party? According to the official Sweden site, crayfish were eaten in Sweden since the 1500s by the aristocracy. In the mid-1800s, it became more widespread, but it wasn't until the 1900s that the tradition, as it is now, started. Because of concerns about overfishing, catching crayfish was limited to a few months from August onward. Therefore, a Swedish crayfish celebration heralds the end of summer. Decorations might include paper lanterns depicting the man in the moon, bibs, and paper hats.

Unlike the overly spiced Cajun version, Swedish crayfish are simply boiled with salt and crown dill. No matter, I love crawfish in any form!

I ended up inviting one of my long-time students, who was pretty excited about all-you-can-eat crayfish. You have to go with someone who loves these little mudbugs too, otherwise, you're just eating boiled seafood and Swedish cafeteria food and that's no fun.

Chinese Corn and Imitation Crab Egg Drop Soup

Chinese Corn Imitation Crab Egg Drop Soup 1

It was one of those nights. I wasn't feeling particularly hungry, but wanted something to tide me over. Didn't want to go out. Didn't want leftovers. So I started combing through my freezer and pantry.

There was a package of imitation crab that I had intended to make Crab Rangoons with, except the cream cheese went bad before I could get to it. The pantry yielded a can of corn and some seafood stock. I almost always have eggs on hand. All the makings for Chinese Corn Imitation Crab Egg Drop Soup, enough to fill me up without making me feel stuffed.

It was late at night and I honestly hadn't planned on blogging this recipe. But while eating the egg drop soup, I was thinking it was mighty tasty and asked my Facebook group if anyone wanted the "recipe." Several people mentioned they wanted a quick recipe for when they're in the same predicament too, so here you go.

The egg drop soup was still good the next day, when I re-heated it to take better pictures.

Cha Gio Cua Be (Vietnamese Crab Egg Rolls)

Cha Gio Cua Be (Vietnamese Crab Egg Rolls) 2

Cha Gio Cua Be (Vietnamese Crab Egg Rolls). So decadent!

I remember the summer I spent a month in Hanoi, I repeatedly visited Bun Cha Dac Kim at #1 Hang Manh for Bun Cha Hanoi (Vietnamese Hanoi-Style Rice Vermicelli Noodles with Grilled Pork Patties. As the reputedly best in town, sure the bun cha was good, but it was really the crab egg rolls that had me coming back again and again. An order of bun cha nem ran cua be only set me back about $1.50 back then too. *Sigh.*

If only crab egg rolls weren't such a luxury. Normally, any amount of crab I have on hand gets saved for my mom's banh canh cua (Vietnamese thick noodle soup with crab), but I had to make this just once, just for the blog.

Crab is too delicate and flaky to use alone in the filling, so adding some ground pork and shrimp can stretch it further so it's not quite so expensive. I omitted Tree Ear Fungus that I normally add to egg rolls because I felt the mushrooms would overpower the taste of the crab. Other than that, it's a pretty basic egg roll recipe.