Steamed Whole Mud Crab with Black Bean & Chilli Dressing

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Balance and Harmony

By Neil Perry

Published 2008

  • About

I created this sauce back in 1984 at the Blue Water Grill in Bondi. I love it because all you do is steam the crab, toss it with the dressing, some spring onions and coriander, and you have a majestic dish. I love the saltiness of the black beans and I like using the Korean bean paste to give it a deep, rich almost smoky flavour. This sauce is stunning with all sorts of other seafood as well: drizzle it over steamed lobster, scallops, mussels or clams.


  • 1 × 1–1.5 kg (2 lb 4 oz-3 lb 5 oz) live mud crab
  • 90 g ( oz/1 bunch) coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), cut into julienne

Black Bean & Chilli Dressing

  • tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 large knob of ginger, peeled and cut into julienne
  • 1 Spanish onion, cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) cubes
  • 150 g ( oz) fermented black beans, unwashed and lightly crushed
  • 1 red capsicum (pepper), deseeded and cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) squares
  • 4 tablespoons Korean bean paste
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) sake
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) mirin
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) rice vinegar
  • tablespoons sesame oil


To make the black bean and chilli dressing, heat a wok until smoking. Add the peanut oil and, when hot, stir-fry the ginger and onion for a few minutes. Add the black beans, capsicum and bean paste and stir for a minute. Add the sake, mirin, vinegar and sesame oil and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced by about a third.

Kill the crab humanely, pull off the top shell and clean well. Pull off the claws, chop the body in half and crack the hard shell on the claws with the back of a cleaver.

Place the crab in a bamboo steamer and steam for 8 minutes. The flesh should be white and firm when done. Remove the crab from the steamer and place in a bowl. Pour on the dressing, sprinkle with the coriander and spring onions and toss to coat the crab.