At the moment the southern part of Queensland is cleaning up and recovering from the most devasting floods for many years. An area said to be the size of France and Germany put together has been affected. Lives have been lost and still more are missing.We watched our television in horror as cars were overturned and swept away by the flash flood, trees bent and twisted as if they were toothpicks and steel and concrete structures destroyed. A flood relief appeal was immediately set up to help the many Queenslanders left homeless by the force of Mother Nature. The bad weather and floods have now moved further south and are now affecting New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania while bush fires have raged in Western Australia. Such is the land “down under” that we call home, Australia. A land of extreme diversities.
Many dear friends have asked about mine and my family’s welfare and for that I thank you for your care and concern. But even though I live in Queensland, we are over 1000km north of the disasterous floods and are enjoying our tropical North Queensland lifestyle.
Relaxing on the beach, fishing and eating good food are what our lifestyle is all about. Recently my husband and son brought home a wonderful catch of three, glorious mudcrabs. Mudcrabs (scylla serrata) have a wonderful, delicate, sweet meat. Usually, we simply boil or steam the crabs and pick out the meat to be enjoyed with an olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing. But this time I tried this recipe with great results!
Mudcrabs are large crabs with a found in the northern tropical to temperate waters of Australia. They inhabit sheltered estuaries, tidal reaches of some rivers mud flats and mangrove forests. Crabs favour the soft muddy bottom. Their two hind legs are flattened for swimming. But the two front nippers are large and strong for crushing and cutting their prey.
Now onto the recipe! It may seems a lot of work but I promise you it’s worth it!
Once you have your live mudcrabs (2 or 3 crabs for four people is about right) you will need to clean and prepare them for cooking. Kill them by placing in the freezer for an hour or two. Then you are ready to clean them.
1.Clean the outside of the mud crab with a brush under running water.
2.If you want to keep the top shell to place back on the crab when you plate it up, lift the flap on it’s belly and pull the top shell from the back of the crab forward, then halve the crab with a knife.
(You can cook the top shell in with the rest of the crab)
4.Remove the guts and feathery lungs from the body.
5.Brush out any muck from the inside of the crab.
6.Crack the shells of each portion before cooking to let the flavors in (one tap on each with a knife sharpening steel will do the trick). You can cut each half in half again quartering the crab – if that makes sense!
Now the fun stuff! Warm up a wok with a few spoonfuls of canola oil, 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic, 2 teaspoons grated ginger and chilli. The chilli is up to you, your taste and the strength of your chilli. I used 8 of my home grown, dried chillis, ground up finely. When the aromatics are letting you know how great they smell, toss in the portioned crab. Stir fry until the crab is starting to change colour but don’t allow the garlic is burn.
Toss through 1 finely sliced, red capsicum.
At this point it is time to add in the ingredients which will become the sauce.
Puree a 400g tin tomatoes, mix with 3 tablespoons black bean sauce, 4 tablespoons soy sauce and 4 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce. Pour over the crab and stir through.
Add 2 tablespoons sherry, 2 tablespoon white vinegar and 2 tablespoons grated palm sugar. ( You can also use brown sugar)
Stir through 140ml coconut cream and allow to simmer absorbing the flavourful sauce until the crab has completely changed colour and is tender and cooked. Toss through a handful of sliced, spring onions.
Arrange on a deep platter of steamed jasmine rice placing the pieces in the appropriate position to reassemble the crab crowning it with the top shell! Sprinkle with another handful on sliced, spring onions.
Provide plenty of napkins and enjoy with a salad!