You may notice that a new wave of Asian inspired dishes have gradually appeared on this humble blog. I have been in a real Asian food craze lately and naturally enough the current Asian theme will keep on going for a while. Hope you too enjoy this exploration with me…
The dish I feature today must be one of my most favorite ways of cooking crab. It´s hot, spicy, peppery, rich and full of flavors to just explode in your mouth. This fiery dish, Black Pepper Crab, comes from Malaysian eclectic and exotic cuisine. It reflects the perfect blend of ingredients from different cuisines in Malaysian food, something which I love deeply. Read this short introduction and you will be amazed by the diversity of this cuisine.
To make this, you first need to get very fresh crabs. I have used Blue Swimmer Crab (the freshest I could find), but I think the original recipe uses mud crab. Also, fresh curry leaves are required. My Asian supermarket normally sells it fresh, and these leaves freeze beautifully. The recipe also calls for fermented soy bean paste (tau cheo – click here to see the photo), which should be available at Asian store. Other ingredients like black peppercorns, black soy sauce & oyster sauce should be easily found in well-stocked supermarket. And yes, butter is used here. Anything with butter tastes so good, and this is no exception!
Since it is rather spicy, you may wish to reduce the amount of chili and pepper to start up with. This is the type of dish where your hands need to get messy. I quite enjoy the experience. You should really try!
Black Pepper Crab
Recipe from this book
2 tbsp dried prawns
2 kg (4lbs) fresh crabs
¼ cup oil
2 tbsp butter
2 shallots, minced
7 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fermented soy bean tau cheo, mashed
3 ½ tbsp black pepper corns, lightly toasted in a non-stick pan, then coarsely ground
½ cup curry leaves
10 red bird´s eye chillies, whole
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
¼ cup water
- Rinse & drain the dried prawns, Dry toast them in a skillet. Allow to cool and grind coarsely in a mortar.
- Prepare the crabs: lift the triangular-shaped apron on the underside of the crab. Pull the top shell off the body. Discard the grey gills on either side of the body and any spongy grey matter. Clean the crab thoroughly. Quarter the crab and crack the claws so the spices can penetrate.
- Heal the oil in a wok and stir-fry the crab over high heat for 5 mins. Cover the wok and let the crab cook for 3 mins longer. Set the crab aside.
- In the same wok, melt the butter in the remaining oil over medium heat. Stir-fry the shallots, garlic, fermented soy bean, dried prawns, black pepper corns, curry leaves and chillies until fragrant – about 3-5 mins. Add the crab and the remaining ingredients. Cook for 5-10 mins until the crabs are pink and cooked through.
- Serve immediately.