Let your senses take you on a salt and pepper adventure. It's a visually stunning dish, and this a very traditional Hong Kong-Chinese-style of cooking crab in hot oil. 






Skill level

Average: 3.6 (95 votes)


  • 2 live crabs (blue swimmer or mud crab), 400 g each
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • potato starch, for dusting
  • 3 red Asian shallots, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 3 spring onions (scallions, cut into 5 cm lengths)
  • 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced diagonally
  • jasmine rice, to serve

Salt and pepper seasoning

  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp fine white pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • ½ tsp five spice

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 1 hour

To make the seasoning, combine all ingredients in a bowl.

To prepare your crabs humanely, place them in the freezer for 1 hour or submerge them in an ice bath for 5 minutes.

Remove the upper shell of the crab, pick off the gills, which look like little fingers, and discard. Clean the crab under running water and drain. Place the crab on its stomach and chop the crab in half with a heavy cleaver.

Next, divide each half into 4 pieces, chopping each piece after each leg.

With the back of the cleaver, gently crack each claw – this makes it easier to extract the meat.

Heat the oil in a wok to 200°C (400°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 5 seconds.

Dust the crab pieces with potato starch, shaking off any excess. Deep-fry the crab in batches for 3 minutes, turning over once, until golden brown.

Remove from the wok and drain on kitchen paper. Remove the oil, reserving 2 tbsp, and clean the wok.

Heat the reserved oil in the wok, then add the shallots and garlic, and fry until fragrant.

Return the crab to the wok with the spring onion and chilli. Add the salt and pepper seasoning to taste.

Serve with jasmine rice and finger bowls.

Luke Nguyen's Food Trail airs 8pm, Thursdays on SBS and then you can catch-up on SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, videos and more.