Black pepper crab

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 4 people

A colourful, gutsy South East Asian favourite, this is a dish worth getting your hands dirty for, writes Tony Tan. Roll up your sleeves and give it a crack.

  • 1.5 kg fresh mud crabs (about 2), scrubbed
  • For dusting: cornflour
  • For deep-frying: vegetable oil
  • 50 gm butter, softened
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 golden shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  • 8 long red chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns, cracked
  • 1 tbsp mashed preserved yellow beans (see note)
  • 1 tbsp dried prawns, soaked in cold water, drained and coarsely ground (see note)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 250 ml (1 cup) chicken stock
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) coriander
  • To serve: steamed mantou buns (see note)
01   Break off and discard the abdominal flap of the crab, and hold the bottom end and pull away top shell.
02   Remove gills.
03   Twist off claws.
04   Cut the body of each crab in half with the legs attached and cut each section into 2 or 3 pieces. Cut legs in half at the joints with a cleaver.
05   Using the back of the cleaver or knife, carefully crack the claws.
06   Heat oil in a wok over high heat to 180C. Dust crab pieces with cornflour, add to wok in batches and fry, turning occasionally, until the shells just begin to turn red (2-3 minutes). Remove from the wok and drain on paper towels. Discard oil, or reserve for use in another dish.
07   Return wok to medium-high heat, add butter, garlic, shallots, curry leaves and chillies and stir-fry until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Reduce heat to medium, add pepper, preserved beans, dried prawns, soy sauces, oyster sauce and sugar and stir-fry for another 2 minutes.
08   Add chicken stock and return crab to wok.
09   Cover and simmer until the crab is cooked through and liquid has thickened (5-7 minutes). Spoon onto a large platter, scatter with coriander and serve with steamed mantou.

Note If you have bought live crabs, freeze them for an hour to render them senseless before dispatching. Preserved yellow beans and dried prawns are available at Asian supermarkets. Mantou buns are sold at Asian supermarkets.

Topics:

AUTUMN, CURRY, MAIN, SEAFOOD, CORIANDER, BEANS, CRAB, PRAWNS, CHILLIES, SHALLOTS, GARLIC, MALAYSIAN

Recipe:

TONY TAN

Photography:

ROB SHAW

Styling:

BHAVANI KONINGS

FEATURED IN

May 2014

May 2014

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