Shanghai Chef’s Sake Specialty

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - June 22, 2005
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Li May Tang is an inspiration to her family and to the restaurant industry. Since the untimely death of her husband, she has tirelessly led her establishments — Royal Yakiniku, Hong Kong Harbor View in Aloha Tower Marketplace and the wonderful new Shanghai Bistro in Discovery Bay (one of my new favorite restaurants) — and has inspired loyal employees, a good number of whom have been with her for many years.

Originally from Taiwan, Li May is the mother to three children — 21-year-old Theresa Yea Ting, 18-year-old Michele Yea Shin and 16-year-old son Richard Yuen Jian.

Li May handled every design element at Shanghai Bistro. The restaurant is elegant, with beautiful teak furniture, museumquality Chinese ceramic artifacts, and handmade pottery dishes from Taipei made-toorder for them.

Executive Chef Chih-Chieh Chang, also born in Taiwan, is equally an artist, using canvas to do his Chinese calligraphy, vegetables for his ornate carvings that adorn many of the restaurant’s displays and exotic ingredients to make his exceptional cuisine at Shanghai Bistro. Trained in many types of Chinese food, including Taiwanese, Shanghai, Mandarin, Szechwan and Cantonese, he is acclaimed for his dim sum menu that incorporates many Chinese herbs. His personal favorite is Shaulong Ton Baou, the Shanghai-style of dim sum made-to-order in the traditional fashion.

When Li May entertains at the restaurant or recommends dishes to special guests, the item on the top of her list is always Chef Chang’s Sake Crab.

She shares his recipe with us here.

Made from rice, sake is an alcoholic beverage distinctive to Japan. It has a long history. It was approximately in the third century B.C. when a method of rice planting was introduced to Japan. It is believed that sake making in Japan started around the same time.

Sake is a naturally fermented alcoholic beverage classified in the same general category with wine and beer. These beverages are made through a fermentation process. Because of the differences in ingredients, however, the corresponding fermentation processes required for producing each product vary in degree of complexity.


Traditional sake is made from the simple ingredients of rice and water. Containing no artificial artificial additives, enhancers or sulfites, it adds a unique flavor to stir-fries, fish, crab, marinades and sauces, to name a few.

SAKE CRAB
Compliments of executive Chef Chih-Chieh Chang Shanghai Bistro
• 1.5-2 pounds crab, preferably live Dungeness (can use Kona blue if desired) or can substitute 1 pound of shrimp and lessen sake
• 2 ounces ginger, cut thinly and diagonally
• 4 ounces green onion, cut into 3-inch pieces
• 2 cups Japanese Sake (or to taste)
• 1 teaspoon sesame oil
• 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (optional)
• 1 bunch noodles, saimin or pasta

Wash crab. Steam crab for 15 minutes with sake, ginger and onion, and then cut into pieces. Remove from heat. Put sesame oil on crab for flavor (optional). Put into deep bowl with all the sauce and serve. Sauce can be put in small bowls like soup to drink. Or serve over noodles, saimin or pasta.

Alternate preparation: Steam in a bowl with crab and all ingredients. Then serve at the table in the same bowl.

Makes two servings.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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