Chef Pete Evans serves up the classic chilli mud crab, with a DIY spin. Make your own sweet chilli and tomato sauce for a great depth of flavour to enhance the sweet flesh of the crab.






Skill level

Average: 1.8 (243 votes)


  • 2 live mud crabs
  • 50 ml coconut oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 long red chillies, chopped
  • 5 cm piece ginger, cut into julienne
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander root
  • 185 ml (¾ cup) chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • ½ cup chopped spring onion, green part only
  • ¼ cup mint leaves
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves
  • 200 g cherry tomatoes, halved


Hoisin sauce

  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1½ tsp raw honey
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes


Sweet chilli sauce

  • 125 ml (½ cup) coconut vinegar (see Note)
  • 115 g (⅓ cup) raw honey
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 long red chillies, seeded
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1½ tbsp arrowroot mixed with 2 tbsp cold water


Tomato sauce

  • 180 g tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • ½ tsp powdered gelatine
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cloves

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Freezing time 2 hours

To make hoisin sauce, whisk all ingredients and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl to combine. Transfer to a sterilised glass jar or container (see Note). The sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

To make sweet chilli sauce, place coconut vinegar, honey, fish sauce, chilli, garlic and ginger in a food processor with 65 ml water and blend until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan placed over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes or until sauce has reduced by half. Whisk in arrowroot mixture and continue to whisk for 30 seconds. Remove from heat, cool and transfer to a sterilised glass jar or container (see Note). The sauce will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

To make tomato sauce, combine tomato paste and 80 ml (⅓ cup) water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer (add more water if you prefer a thinner sauce). Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Cool and transfer to a sterilised glass jar or container (see Note). The sauce will keep refrigerated for up to 4 weeks.

To prepare crabs, freeze crabs for 2 hours to put into a stupor, then place each on its back with the eyes facing you. Drive a thick skewer or the point of a sharp knife between the eyes and into the centre of the crab. Break off tail flaps on the underside and discard. Cut each crab in half lengthwise, then carefully pull off the back shells and reserve. Remove the soft gills and discard, then rinse and discard the stomach sac. Cut each half into three pieces and crack claws.

Heat oil in a large wok over high heat, add garlic, chilli, ginger and coriander and stir  until fragrant. Add crab and toss for 1 minute or until it changes colour. Add 60 ml (¼ cup) hoisin sauce, 80 ml (⅓ cup) sweet chilli sauce 120 ml tomato sauce, stock, fish sauce and 1 teaspoon of sea salt, stir and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until crab is just cooked through. Stir through spring onion, herbs and tomato. Remove from heat and serve with crab crackers, crab pickers, finger bowls filled with warm water and lemon, and bibs.


• Coconut vinegar is available from Asian and Filipino food shops.
• It is essential to sterilise jars before filling them to prevent bacteria from forming. You can reuse any glass jar as long as the lid seals well. To sterilise jars, bottles and metal spoons in the oven, preheat oven to 120°C. Wash items in soapy water, rinse, then dry. Place equipoment (inclduing non-plastic lids) on an oven tray and place in oven for 20 minutes. Remove and fill jars while still hot. To sterilise jars, bottles, containers and metal spoons in the dishwasher, wash on the hottest cycle. Dry, then fill jars, bottles and containers while still hot.



Photography Mark Roper. Styling Deb Kaloper.


As seen in Feast magazine, November 2014, Issue 37.