• Steamed oysters with garlic, ginger and crab tomalley (Adam Liaw)Source: Adam Liaw

On the island of Hainan, the hele crab (crab of joyous harmony) is famed for its bright orange and red tomalley. Combined with the local sand ginger it makes a delicious sauce for oysters. Destination Flavour China 






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Tomalley is the name given to the digestive organs of shellfish like crabs and lobsters. Sometimes going by the names crab fat, lobster pâté, or mustard it is a delicacy. It has a colour that can vary from grey-green to yellow and bright orange when cooked. You can remove it from the body of crabs that have been steamed or otherwise cooked. 


  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 4 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp cooked crab tomalley
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 12 very large oysters, shucked
  • lime wedges, to serve

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.


1. Combine the garlic and ginger in a heatproof bowl. Heat the oil in a small saucepan until very hot, then pour the hot oil over the aromatics.

2. Stir through the crab tomalley and salt and allow to cool to room temperature.

3. Shuck the oysters, then loosen from the shells and turn over for a nicer presentation side. Steam the oysters very lightly for just 3 minutes.

4. Top the oysters with a spoonful of the flavoured oil and serve immediately with wedges of lime. 


Photography by Adam Liaw.

Destination Flavour China with Adam Liaw airs 7.30pm, Wednesday on SBS and then on SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, videos and more.