Mud crabs are found across the Top End coastline and catch rates are highest from May to September, though they can be caught all year round. The trick to great flavour and easy eating is to crack the shells well before cooking.
- 4 live Darwin mud crabs
- ¼ cup julienned young ginger, plus extra to serve
- 2 tbsp Chinese rice wine
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 4 eggwhites
- coriander leaves, to serve
- 2 fresh red chillies, to serve
- Chinese black vinegar, to serve
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 prepare the crab, you need to put them to "sleep" in order to kill them humanely. To do this, place them in an esky filled with iced water, or the freezer, for 1 hour. Remove crabs and place each one on its back. Using a cleaver or large knife, make one vertical incision into the centre of the crab.
Turn the crab over, then hold the flap and pull the top shell off the body. Rinse the shell. Remove and discard the spongy gills, then break the crab in half. Use the cleaver to cut off the large claws, then lightly pound the claws to break the shell, so the flavours of the sauce can penetrate the meat.
Cut the leg tips off the smaller legs, and cut the pieces in half again.
Divide the crab pieces between two large bamboo steamers and top with the julienned ginger.
Drizzle with the rice wine and soy sauce, then cover and steam for 10 minutes.
Pour the eggwhites (there’s no need to combine them) over the crab pieces. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the meat is opaque.
Garnish with coriander and fresh chilli. Combine the black vinegar and the extra julienned ginger, and serve on the side for dipping.