Black Pepper Crab

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Complex

  • Serves

    4

    as an entrée

Appears in

Real Singaporeans know it’s all about black pepper crab, not chilli crab! This is not a traditional recipe, but it’s ridiculously tasty.

Ingredients

  • 1 live mud crab
  • 80 g ( oz) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 4 cm ( inch) piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 60 g ( oz) ground black pepper
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) chicken stock (Essentials)
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
  • tablespoons kombu extract (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 spring onions (scallions), 2 cut into 3 cm ( inch) lengths, 1 thinly sliced, green part only, to garnish
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • potato starch, for dusting
  • tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 20 coriander (cilantro) leaves

Method

Put the mud crab in the freezer for 1 hour to send it to sleep. Once asleep, take it from the freezer and work quickly. Turn the crab upside down and make an incision with a sharp, heavy knife into the middle of the body, driving the knife down between the eyes. You can now pull the body out of the shell. Discard the tail, lungs and stomach sac. Wash the crab thoroughly under cold water to remove any mud, and scrub the shells with a clean sponge. Separate the claws and knuckles, and cut the body into 4–6 pieces. Using the back of a heavy knife, carefully crack the claws and knuckles. This makes it much easier to hoe into later.

Heat a wok over a medium–high heat, add the butter and bring it to bubbling point. Just as the butter starts to foam, add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring continuously, for about 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the pepper and cook for 1 minute, then add the chicken stock, oyster sauce, sugar, kombu extract and salt. Bring to the boil and simmer until the sauce has reduced by one-third. Add the 3 cm ( inch) lengths of spring onions and cook for 30 seconds before turning the heat off.

Fill a large heavy-based saucepan or deepfryer one-third full with oil and heat to 180°C (350°F) or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden in 15 seconds. Dust the crabmeat pieces in potato starch and set aside. Gently lower the claws and knuckles into the hot oil. Be careful as the oil may spit. Fry for 2 minutes and then add the dusted meat pieces. Fry for another 2 minutes, then drain on paper towels.

To Serve

Put the wok with the sauce back on the heat, and add the crab pieces. Wok-toss until all pieces are liberally coated. Add the Shaoxing wine and sesame oil, remove from the heat and serve immediately topped with coriander leaves and the thinly sliced spring onions. You can add the shell too, if you like.