“The king of all crab dishes, this popular dish is served with the shell on, and is typically eaten with one’s hands. Make sure you have plenty of napkins handy – it’s messy work!″ Adam Liaw, Destination Flavour Singapore
- 1 large live mud crab, cleaned
- 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
- ¼ tsp salt
- 250 ml (1 cup) tomato passata (or 1x 400 g can crushed tomatoes)
- 250 ml (1 cup) fish stock or chicken stock or water
- 2 tbsp finely grated palm sugar
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp cold water
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 20 g butter
- 3 spring onions, green ends only, cut into 5 cm lengths
- thinly sliced red bird’s eye chilli and coriander sprigs, to serve
- 1 medium brown onion, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves
- 6 long fresh red chillies, deseeded
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tsp belacan (shrimp paste), optional
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.
Chilling time 1 hour
To dispatch the crab humanely before preparing, place it in the freezer for 1 hour to put it to sleep. Pull the top shell (carapace) away from the body and discard the gills but reserve any of the yellowish tomalley from the head and the top shell. Twist off the claws, then using a cleaver or large heavy knife, divide the body into four pieces with two legs on each piece.
To make the base paste, place all the ingredients in a blender and process until a smooth paste forms.
Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. When hot, fry the paste for 5 minutes or until fragrant and the oil separates from the solids. Add the crab (including the shell) and salt and toss until the crab starts to change colour. Add the passata, stock, sugar, vinegar and soy sauce and toss to coat. Stir in the crab tomalley. Cover the wok and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove the crab pieces from the wok and place on a large platter.
Stirring continuously, slowly drizzle the cornflour mixture into the wok, followed by the beaten egg, then the butter and spring onions. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Pour the sauce over the crab, then scatter with coriander and chilli and serve immediately, with finger bowls and plenty of napkins.
Image by Adam Liaw.