Did you know that black pepper crab is one of the two most popular ways to prepare crab in Singapore? That is according to Wikipedia, which of course makes it true. Last week G and I decided to bring back Singapore memories by making this at home.
G picked up a gorgeous Vancouver crab that, sadly, was very much alive if sleepy by the time it got home. I did the honours of, well, murdering it (er, I mean turning it into a delicious dinner). That said, butchering one’s own food is something I would encourage every person do at some point. It provides you a perspective on the importance of life but more so a connection with food that is so lost in today’s shrink-wrapped supermarket convenience environment where meat/seafood is just something you see looking all pretty on the racks. The reality is much different and you’ll have a new respect for your food after killing it yourself.
For this recipe you’ll need the crab and an assortment of ingredients that include: miso paste, shallots; soy sauce; curry leaves; butter; garlic; belachan (roasted before use – very stinky); lots of black pepper; chilies of your choice (I used a jalapeno); sugar; oyster sauce and coriander leaves for garnish.
2) our crab prepares to meet his maker; 3) do tap the crab ahead of time (on the counter or with the back side of a heavy knife) to stun it before ripping off the shell
4) hold it firmly and leverage off the shell (it takes a far amount of work); 5) you’ll reveal the innards
6) clean the gills out, save the coral and get rid of the green stuff (though some folks enjoy it); 7) chop into manageable portions
8) there, your crab is ready for the wok
9 & 10) prepare your ingredients
11) the belachan; 12) half cook the crab by frying in a wok, remove and reserve
13) add your shallots and everything but the sugar, soy and oyster sauce and cook till fragrant
14) add in the crab, sugar, soy and oyster sauce then finish cooking and serve with rice.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
(yawn)… finally the end of this sad journey. The usual gaggle of werewolves and vampires reassembles again including the unholy trio of shamelessly inane ‘actors’ Kristen Stewart as Bella, Robert Pattinson as Edward and Taylor Lautner as Jacob. David Slade directs the two sorry hours of tedious boredom; Bella graduates; Victoria returns for more revenge; Jacob still lusts after Bella. Amid the tiresome seen-it-all-before scenes rank with simply brutal dialogue lies the end of the saga. Let do hope and pray this dreadful series that only got worse as it evolved has finally met its eclipse. My rating 1 out of 10.
Nine years after their first encounter in Paris, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Deply) cross paths again when Jesse arrives in Paris at the end of a long book tour. The book, of course, is a veiled autobiography of his and Celine’s before sunrise journeying. Both remain haunted by their first encounter and director Richard Linklater picks up where they left off dealing with the question: did either return to the train station as they promised. Before Sunset doesn’t work as well as the first film. The couple are simply re-hatching old themes, driven by a plot vehicle – Jesse’s soon departing plane – that feels false. Though both are wiser, sadder and more mature this time out, the passion that brought life to the first film is buried in too much psychological melodrama that is both too verbose by half and gives us characters weighted in stone rather than light. But perhaps that’s the point ? My rating 6 out of 10.
Down with Love
Down with Love is an homage to those silly, bantering romantic comedies of the 1960s. It is not trying to be something bigger or deeper or more meaningful. Its raison d’etre is simply lightness and silliness. Barbara Novak (Renee Zellweger) comes to New York to celebrate the publication of her women-can-have-lives-and-pleasure-without-men book – Down With Love. Journalist and womanizer extraordinaire, Catcher Block (Ewan Macgregor), is set on proving her wrong by trying to woe her – as someone else. It’s all utterly ridiculous in the hands of director Peyton Reed and with the addition of David Hyde Pierce as Peter MacManus, Block’s boss, and Sarah Paulson as Vikki Hill, Novak’s agent, the mis-communication and comedic results are wonderful to see on screen. My rating 8 out of 10
In 1965 Roman Polanski directed a very young Catherine Deneuve in this deep and beautifully filmed psychological thriller. Deneuve is Carole, a young manicurist who lives in London with her sister Helen (Yvonne Furneaux). Carole is deeply troubled, in particular by men; repulsed in fact. A situation not helped by her sister who is banging her boyfriend Michael (Ian Hendrey) each nigh in their flat, nor by Colin (John Fraser) her wannabe boyfriend. Things come to a head when Michael takes Helen on a vacation leaving Carole alone in the flat. She soon slides into hallucinations as her mental state slips beyond the norm into a nether world where she imagines being raped as the walls of her flat – literally – come alive. Way ahead of its time, Repulsion is pregnant with subplot but try to avoid thinking too much and simply sit back and enjoy watching the great film-making. Exceptionally great even all these years on, Repulsion shows us how to create horror that doesn’t need the gory effects so prevalent in today’s films. My rating 9 out of 10.
It doesn’t end well. That said, Sin Nombre is a magnificent film that takes us deep into two miserable worlds: the gangs of southern Mexico and the lives of desperate families trying to escape poverty in Central America by making the dangerous journey to America. Directed and written by Cary Fukunaga, Sin Nombre shows us the story of El Casper (Edgar Flores), a Mexican lad brutally buried in gang culture and Sayra (Paulina Gaitan), a young Honduran refugee escaping to America with her father and uncle by riding train roofs across the breadth of Mexico. When the lives of these two youths meet atop the roof of a train one night, the film’s true journey begins. Beautifully filmed and oh-so-sad to watch, Sin Nombre gives us in the ‘have countries’ a reality difficult to comprehend. Fate is cruel and despite knowing intuitively that his days are numbered El Casper aids Sayra in reaching the border as though his redemption for past sins rests on this goal alone. A must see. My rating 9 out of 10.
Mission Impossible III
JJ Abrams directs Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in this latest MIF caper. Aiding Hunt is his usual crew – Maggie Q as Zhen and uber-cool Ving Rhames as Luther. Trying to finally exit the MIF life and retire, Hunt marries Julia (Michelle Monaghan). Alas the scriptwriters have different ideas for Julia after Hunt captures bad guy Owen Davian (a wickedly evil Philip Seymour Hoffman). She is duly dispatched to Shanghai as a bartering chip for Hunt to steal – wait for it – the “Rabbit’s Foot”, which is some crazy nuclear vial that will end the world or something – sorry, this reviewer lost track, and, frankly didn’t really care by this point what it was all supposed to be about. In the end, there’s plenty of action and Tom huffs and puffs his way through it all capably – the utter lack of any romance between him and Monaghan aside – and Billy Curdup, as double agent Musgrave, gets his comeuppance. Roll credits; roll eyes. My rating 3 out of 10 for some breathtaking special effects.