Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Crab Shack, Wellington CBD

The first thing I do when going to a different city is check out the food offerings. So naturally, I got very excited when I discovered that there was a crab shack at Wellington's Shed 5. Like, the squealy kind of excited.

Even though I was only coming down for a conference, I was determined to make a weekend of it. I was also able to convince Jason to come down with me (too easy), and we wandered down to Shed 5 together.

The Crab Shack was absolutely packed when we arrived and we were told that there would be a 1.5 hour wait. I kicked myself for not booking ahead, but wasn't deterred. We put ourselves on the second page on a very long waiting list and went off for drinks. 

Luckily, the wait didn't turn out to be quite that long and we were seated while it was still light. The interior was dressed to look like a fishing boat, with crab baskets hanging from the ceiling and mismatched decking on the walls. Every table was packed and the kitchen looked super busy. The smell of garlicky crab wafted through the air -I couldn't wait to order.

Salted Lychee Höpt Soda - $4.00
I opted for the Höpt Soda because I'm a real sucker for anything Lychee flavoured. The salt muted the sweetness you would usually get from something Lychee flavoured, but still let the fruitiness through. It had quite an interesting taste and I noted that I never got sick of the flavour because it wasn't overwhelmingly sweet.

Kiwi Clam Chowder in a Jar - $10.00
We ordered the clam chowder based on reviews and boy, was I glad we listened! It had a perfect creamy consistency and its flavour reminded me a bit of salted caramel. As it was so rich, the small jar was the perfect size for sharing between two people.

Raw Fish Board - $16.00
The raw fish trio arrived on a coriander salad and topped with fried shallots. We had four generous slices of salmon, tuna and something I didn't quite catch -cronow? crowno? (I asked the waitress to repeat it three times before I got embarrassed and pretended to understand..)

Anyway, the fish was very fresh. My favourite part about this dish was the dipping sauce - lemongrass and chili, which had a fantastic tang to it. It went very well with the tuna and the mysterious white fish but we felt that it wasn't strong enough to combat the oily salmon.

1kg Nelson Paddle Crab - $30.00
My eyes widened as our server brought our 1kg crab pot and I began to wonder if we had grossly overestimated how much we could eat. I needn't have worried, however, as the the night was still young and the crab was good.

The paddle crabs were steamed in a garlic and chili butter and were incredibly messy to eat -although that just adds to the fun, don't you think? We were given bibs and all the proper tools to help us along, but they just got in the way and we ended up using our hands and teeth which made it more satisfying.

The aftermath
When we finally worked our way through all the dishes, we agreed that it was the most satisfying meal we'd had in a good while. There is something about getting your hands messy and having to work to get at your food that makes it so rewarding. We looked around the restaurant and had a little chuckle at all the other tables who were also enjoying the challenge (we were too full to move, you see).

As you can see from the above photo, it was well after sundown when we finally left the Crab Shack. We slowly walked back to our hotel, hands on our bellies, lamenting the fact we couldn't eat any more and looking forward to our next visit.

The Crab Shack is located at Queens Wharf, Wellington CBD

Friday, October 10, 2014

Quick Lamb Stew with Even Quicker Kumara Mash

The sun was still shining bright when I arrived home the other day, so I decided to go out for a nice walk. I had made it less than 10 minutes away before the skies opened up and started pouring down. I ran home and vowed that I wouldn't step outside again for the rest of the week.

Although we are more than a week into October, you would be forgiven for thinking that it is still winter. This suits me just fine though, because it means it is still appropriate for warming stew. The only problem is that stew is something that requires a lot of time and I don't really fancy waiting 3 hours after work to eat.

This is where a pressure cooker comes in handy. My mother gifted this to me when we moved into our new home, no doubt because she knows the value of time. With this nifty tool, the cooking time is more than halved! 

This stew can be eaten on its own but the sweetness of the Kumara compliments this savoury dish. It only takes 15 minutes to make and really adds a lift.

Quick Lamb Stew with Even Quicker Kumara Mash
A Lucyeats original



300g diced stewing lamb, cut into 2cm x 2cm cubes
1 Tbs flour
1 onion
2 carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 250g can of crushed tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
4 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
350ml vegetable stock
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Kumara Mash:

1 large Kumara
1 Tbs butter
2 Tbs milk


1. Roughly chop the onion, carrots and celery
2. Lightly dust the lamb with flour and season with salt and pepper. Shake off excess
3. Put the pressure cooker (lid off, of course) on medium heat 
4. Add 2 Tbs oil and brown the lamb 
5. Add the garlic and chopped vegetables and fry for about 5 minutes
6. Add the canned tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves and vegetable stock
7. Stir everything together to mix well and bring to a boil
8. Cover and lock the lid on the pressure cooker
9. When pressure is reached, turn the heat down to low and continue cooking for 20 minutes
10. Wait for the pressure to release naturally before carefully opening the lid
11. While waiting for the pressure to release, peel and roughly dice the Kumara. Place pieces in a microwave proof bowl with a pinch of salt and cover with water
12. Place in microwave on high for 10 minutes on high or until Kumara pieces are soft enough to mash
13. Drain them and mash. Mix the butter and milk through with a wooden spoon
14. To serve, ladle the stew into bowls and sit a scoop of mashed Kumara on top

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pok Pok

I was a bit skeptical when one of my friends suggested going to Pok Pok for their birthday lunch. I had previously visited the Thai restaurant when it first opened and left sorely disappointed. However, I was pleased to learn that, after a year, Pok Pok had really picked up its game.

The menu had been updated and the selection really seemed to be different from your average restaurant. 

Stir-fry Crispy Pork Belly with Thai Basil - $16.00
The first dish to arrive was the stir fried pork belly which was served in a delicious light soy and chili sauce. The fat had rendered nicely and melted in the mouth.

Massamun Curry with Goat - $20.00
The Massamun Curry had a nice earthy flavour to it and had obviously been cooking for so long that all the spices had penetrated into the goat and made it super tender. The shallots were sweet and the potato was floury and thickened the soup. It was a great introduction to Massamun Curry for me!

Caramelized Pork Belly - $10.00
The Caramelized Pork Belly is a sweet and sticky variation of the pork belly dish from before, served with crispy shallots and cucumber. Because of its hard sugary shell, the pork belly was a bit hard to cut into but it was totally worth the effort.

Silk Tofu - $14.00
My favourite of the dishes had to be the Silk Tofu. The smooth tofu sat in a clean, light broth of ginger, coriander, chili, soy and sesame. Everything was in perfect balance. I could have had another bowl of this. Pure bliss.

We have been here for a couple of work lunches now and Pok Pok really caters quite well to large groups, even allowing us to order ahead. I am really glad that my friend made me come back again because, otherwise, I would have missed out on a real gem.

Pok Pok is located at 261 Karangahape Rd, Auckland