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Bob Chinn's Crab House Cookbook

by: Serena Jeow with Marilyn Chinn Le Tourneau Lucchesi

Berkeley CA: Ten Speed Press 1998, $29.95, Hardbound
ISBN: 0-89815-964-4

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 2007 Issue: 14(3) page(s): 23 and 26

Neither new nor all Chinese, this book's stories and a few of its recipes show one Chinese family's dynasty and their culture. As a 'Top 100 Chinese Restaurant' selection these past years, it is fun to understand why. The flyleaf touts Chinn's crab house as "the fourth highest-grossing restaurant in the country;" and says it is also one of the largest.

We read with fascination about the family and Bob Chinn's restaurant business; told by daughter and granddaughter, both once worked there. We heard about the book from several readers, and after reading its Preface, understand why many are fascinated by Bob Chinn, his family, and his food. Between its covers are ninety of the restaurant's recipes. Twenty-two are clearly Chinese, most others only have a little Chinese influence.

The recipes are well written, easy to follow, and many are simple. All depend on fresh seafood, a detail the restaurant's owner and staff worry about and watch diligently. This is no easy task as Chinn's eatery seats six hundred plus, and lots of its foods from the sea need to be flown in almost daily. This is a popular eatery, one that many adore, and these reasons are why they do so.

The Chinese recipes most heavily represented are crab, shrimp, lobster, and those in the 'Today's Catch' categories. Catch one of them here and learn more about the restaurant's menu and mail-order business at www.bobchinns.com
Halibut B.V. (Bob's version>
6 ounces Chinese dried salted olives
1 Tablespoons Chinese salted black beans
4 eight-ounce halibut fillets
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup cornstarch
6 slices fresh ginger, cut into thin strips
2 and 1/4 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 and 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 and 1/2 Tablespoons Chinese rice wine
2 and 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1 cup garlic oil (see recipe below)
6 scallions, cut in three sections, each of these slivered
12 sprigs cilantro
1. Put salted olives in a bowl and cover with just enough water, set aside. Put black beans in another bowl, and do likewise.
2. Season each halibut fillet with salt and pepper, dust with cornstarch, and put then into a casserole dish.
3. Drain olives and the black beans, mix them with the ginger, and divide mixture into four parts putting each part on a fish fillet.
4. Put casserole on rack in steamer over rapidly boiling water. Cover and steam the fish for three to four minutes.
5. In another bowl, mix soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, wine, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper and stir until sugar is dissolved.
6. Put garlic oil in small pot, and heat it until it reaches 200 F degrees.
7. Remove fish from the steamer and put each fillet on a preheated plate. Pour one-fourth of the soy sauce mixture over each, then one-fourth of the garlic oil. Garnish with scallions and cilantro, and serve.
Garlic Oil
2 cups corn oil
1 and 1/2 heads garlic, cloves separated, peeled, and chopped
1 thin slice ginger, about two inches long
1/4 white onion, peeled and chopped
1. Heat oil in deep saucepan until it reaches 200 degrees F, then add garlic, ginger and onion, reduce the heat and cook for twenty minutes until onion and other pieces are light brown.
2. Turn heat off and let the oil cool. The strain through a fine strainer making sure no solids remain.
3. Transfer to a dry clean glass container and store in the refrigerator. Can stay refrigerated for up to six weeks.

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