Spicy Crab With Ginger and Spring Onion-CUA XÀO GỪNG HÀNH
Mud crab conjures up so many lovely memories for me. My whole family loves crab and when we have this dish at home everyone gets excited, it’s a big deal in our house. The recipe I have included here is my mum’s recipe, she learnt from a friend who worked at a Chinese restaurant. I have to warn you that it is quite labour intensive but very rewarding. You can replace the Mud crab with any type of crab you have available at your market.
Selecting the crab is a crtitical part of the dish, you have to make this dish with live crab. My mum would ask the fish monger when they were delivered to the store. She knows that crabs can only survive about 3 days out of the water. She looks for crabs with strong reflexes and ones that try to bite her when she is poking around the box- brave woman. She also lifts the crab to make sure it feels heavy, dying crabs feel lighter as their flesh starts to shrink. The fish monger also showed her how to test the crab by pinching the inner legs to show her that the shell was still firm and not shrunken. Crabs are such an expensive and luxiourous item that you don’t want to get it wrong. So all this testing and questioning is vital. We spent $102 on about 4kgs of crab. We bought from two shops to spread the risk and of course my mum bargained. The first shop we paid $29 kilo and in the second shop we paid $24 kilo for the smaller crabs. These prices are surpinsingly good because crab can go alot higher depending on season and suppyly. Luckily they were all fresh and tasty.
Top tips for selecting crab:
1. Find out when they arrived in store.
2. Lift the crab and feel how heavy it is, the heavier the better. Compare with other crabs of the same size.
3. Look for crabs with good reflexes and are alert.
4. Feel the shell around the leg to check it is still firm and not soften.
5. All legs are intact.
Feeds 4 people.
4kg Mud crab
1 500gm bag of Tapioca flour
1 litre vegetable oil
1 large onion chopped finely
6 garlic cloves garlic minced finely
10cm knob of ginger cut into matchsticks
1 bunch of spring onions cut about 5cm
4 tablespoons of Siricha chilli sauce
4 tablespoons of light Soy sauce
8 tablespoons of Oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of raw sugar
Crab juice and membrane (I collected 1 cup from my crabs)
400gm egg noodles
- Put the crabs in freezer so they can go to sleep, this should take about 30 to 45 minutes
- Take it them out of the freezer and remove strings and clean shell using a clean sponge. Remove the claws by chopping them or breaking them off and clean. Trim the tips of the legs and remove the pointy flap of shell. Remove shell, be careful to keep all the crab membrane in a small bowl.This will be the foundation of your sauce. Remove the greylike gills and clean any dirt you may find and remove the sack (shown in picture below) from the crab shell
- Using a heavy cleaver chop the crabs into quarters and crack the crab claws with the back of cleaver
- In a bowl add the tapioca flour and cover the crab
- Fry the crabs in the oil until cooked, cooking time will vary depending on the each piece size. Smaller pieces will take about 3 minutes while the larger claws can take up 5 minutes or more. You can tell a crab is cooked by the change in colour and weight. It becomes lighter after it is cooked. Don’t over cook the crab or it will become dry, undercook the crab and it will be mushy. If you are unsure, take the crab out and check to see if it is cooked. The flesh will be firm and white.
- To cook the sauce, caramelize the onions and then add the garlic. Once you can smell the garlic add the crab juice and membrane to the pot. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the Siricha, soy and oyster sauce along with ½ water. Let this cook for 5 minutes to infuse the flavours. Add the 1/2 of Tapioca flour and ½ cup water to the sauce to thicken. Add more flour if the sauce is not thickening. Taste the sauce and adjust to balance. What you want is slightly spicy, salty and sweet.
- Next add the cooked crab, ginger and spring onions give it a good stir. Cover with a lid and turn off.
- In a boiling pot of water add a dash of oil and cook the noodles for 1 minute. Once they are cooked, drain them under cold running water and set aside in a colander. Do this in batches so the noodles don’t stick together. Arrange noodles on a platter and pour over the crab and sauce and serve!
Below is a video on how to kill and clean the mud crab.
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