This is a dish I created back in the ’90s after a trip to Singapore. I was a bit disappointed with the Singapore chilli crab – not that it wasn’t nice, but it wasn’t what I expected. On returning home, I went into my kitchen and just reached for ingredients available in my pantry, and wrote down the measurements as I went along. The result is very much like me – a little bit of flavour from around the world. I blended it and just put it into a pot with a cleaned mud crab. The result blew everyone away. The recipe has never changed. Many chefs have it but they all know this is mine. Enjoy the beautiful flavours and don’t restrict yourself to crab – try prawns, chicken, tofu or vegetables. Healthy, tasty and rich.
• 1 live Tin Can Bay mud crab, about 1 kg, chopped (see Note)
• coriander leaves, to serve
GINGER, CHILLI AND SHALLOT SAUCE
• 2-3 long red chillies, coarsely chopped
• 2 cm knob ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
• ½ bunch coriander, including roots, well rinsed
• 250 ml (1 cup) light soy sauce
• 250 ml (1 cups) mirin
• 125 ml (½ cup) white wine
• 75 ml sesame oil
• 190 ml sweet chilli sauce
• 2-3 garlic cloves
• 4 spring onions (scallions), coarsely chopped
To make the sauce, place all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
Place the crab pieces in a large, heavy-based saucepan and pour the sauce over the top. Cover and cook over high heat until the sauce comes to the boil. Once the sauce reaches the boil, cook for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 5 minutes, keeping the pan covered. To see if the crab is cooked, remove the lid and look for the tell-tale white droplets of protein being squeezed out of the shell, especially the claws.
Scatter immediately scattered with coriander, with crab crackers, pickers and finger bowls of warm water with lemon.
• To ensure you get a full mud crab, choose a live, heavy crab. I find the ones with brown bellies are always full. Please ensure they are killed humanely, and the best way to do that is to place them in the freezer for 30 minutes and then dissect them. To do this, remove the head, clean the gills and guts, without washing them in water, simply shake it out. Cut the body of the crab into 6 pieces, 3 each half and gently crack all the claws. If you can’t find Tin Can Bay mud crabs, just use the freshest mud crabs you can find.