Cookin' Chilli Crab!!
Rolling in exhausted after a day out watching country cricket, the absolute last thing I wanted to do was cook crabs. Grab some takeaway for the boys and a piece of fruit for me and that would be about it. I've only come to cooking crab in the last year or so and my seafood confidence is not exactly, well, booming out of me. I've bought crabs four or so times in the last year, at $5 a tray when the fishmongers are clearing out stock at the markets before closing time on Saturday. Today is Sunday, and that means it's time to roll up the sleeves and get cracking, literally.
For me, the only way to truly enjoy crab is to cook it chilli-style. This is a dish I've eaten in family homes, but when I've tried to replicate it, the results have been disappointing. I've consulted a handful of cookbooks but nothing's satisfied me. Mostly because the recipes have involved black beans, which to my palate, overpowers the chilli sauce. Eventually, after much frustration, I just gave up and cooked it MY WAY.
Now bear in mind that this recipe is for an overcautious type who would rather feed her guests mushy crab than give them food poisoning. Despite the crabs smelling fresh, I cooked them for a good 3 or 4 minutes more than I usually would, simply because they were a day old. This difference can be crucial - but next time maybe I'll be more daring. Or get around to cooking crabs on the day I buy them!
4 crabs, uncooked, cleaned
7 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
About the same amount of ginger, also peeled and diced
1/4 jar Christine Manfield Chilli Jam (75g)
I always give the crabs a bit of a further clean, because as seen above, I am picky. I heat a large pan (wok would be great here), add a little oil and then 2 of the crabs. Cook on medium heat for 3 minutes then turn and cook on the other side for another 3 minutes. Remove crabs from pan and add the garlic, ginger and chilli jam. The pan may get a bit sticky, so throw in a little soy sauce or water. Add remaining two crabs and cook as above. Then add about half a cup of water to the pan and return the other crabs to it as well. Cover and cook for 4 minutes or until crabs are done.
Ah ha! See, I got out of it there! It might be that the crabs are done after one minute, but it's up to you, isn't it? No responsiblity taken here!! I might be a clumsy cook, but I am also a cautious cook (when it comes to seafood anyway!) Garnish with coriander and sprinkle with salt.
The last times we've eaten blue swimmer crabs, which are smaller and more delicate. These were hefty and orange, maybe sand crabs? The claws, which hold that tender sweet meat, were too hard for me to break open. Figman used his teeth, but after my dentist's warning I wasn't risking mine. I think I might have to invest in some cheap crab crackers. After all, there's nothing more frustrating than seeing that succulent meat and not being able to get at it. Unless it's coming home late in the afternoon and finding day old crab in the fridge ...