This is inspired by my visit to Hong Kong, where you will see crab everywhere, in the markets and restaurants, on posters at the bus stops and on the sides of trams. Chinese hairy crabs, soft shell crabs, snow crabs...
- 3 blue swimmer crabs
- 4 tbsp peanut oil
- 2 large shallots, finely sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 bird’s eye chilli, sliced thinly
- 1 knob fresh ginger, peeled and cut to a fine julienne
- 2 tbsp salted black beans, soaked in cold water
- 2 tbsp shoaxing rice wine (Chinese rice wine)
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- ⅓ cup chicken stock
- 1 tbsp corn flour, mixed with 2 tbsp cold water
- 1 tsp sugar
- pinch Sichuan (Szechuan) peppercorns, ground
- small handful of gai lan leaves (Chinese broccoli)
- small handful water spinach leaves
- 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- coriander, to garnish
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.
Place a pot a quarter full of water over high heat and bring to the boil. Place a Chinese steamer basket snugly on top.
Wash the crabs then remove the hard top shell. Remove the dead man’s fingers and split into quarters. Tap the larger claws/legs with the back of a knife to break the shell. Place into the steamer basket and steam for 4-5 minutes or until the shell has changed colour and the meat in the shell just cooked. Remove the crab pieces and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a large wok over a medium heat for 2 minutes and add the peanut oil. Add the shallots and stir-fry gently until they soften, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute to release the flavours. Add the chilli and two thirds of the ginger, stir-frying until fragrant and the aromatics have begun to colour. Then add the strained black beans. Add the shoaxing rice wine, soy and chicken stock. Bring to the boil quickly, stirring once or twice. Add a tablespoon of corn flour mixture, stirring as you do it to create a smooth shiny sauce. Taste sauce, then adjust seasonings by adding sugar and Szechuan pepper to taste.
Add the crab pieces and coat well in the sauce. Add gai lan, water spinach and spring onions and simmer for a further 30-60 seconds, tossing to combine, then drizzle in the sesame oil. Remove from the heat.
Finally add the lightly beaten egg and finish with a drizzle of sesame oil. Turn off the heat and toss to combine.
To serve, arrange stir-fry in a shallow bowl ensuring to coat with any excess sauce; garnish with remaining spring onions, picked coriander leaves and reserved ginger. Ensure you have fingerbowls at the ready.