First deep-fried, then tossed in an aromatic sate sauce laced with chilli, stir-fried crab doesn't get much better than this. Luke Nguyen suggests using any left-over sate sauce as a dipping sauce for noodle soups or add to stir fries.






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (76 votes)


  • 2 live crabs (400 g each)  blue swimmer or mud (see note)
  • 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 (2 inch) lengths
  • 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Sate sauce

  • 500 ml (2 cups) vegetable oil
  • ½ bulb garlic, minced 
  • 10 spring onions, sliced (white part only)
  • 200 g crab meat
  • 100 g dried shrimp, soaked in 1 cup water for 20 minutes, then drained
  • 25 g dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 100 ml chilli oil

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.


To make the sate sauce, pour the vegetable oil into a wok and bring to medium heat, fry the garlic and spring onion till fragrant. Now add crab meat, shrimps, sugar, oyster sauce, salt and fish sauce. Stir then reduce heat to a low simmer for 30 minutes stirring every 5 minutes. Lastly add chilli oil, stir and simmer for a further 5 minutes. 

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

Heat the reserved oil in the wok, then add the shallots and garlic and fry until fragrant. Now add 4 tablespoons of sate sauce and stir for 1 minute. Add the crab and spring onions and toss, making sure to coat the crab well. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chilli.  Serve with jasmine rice and finger bowls.

Leftover sate sauce will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 week.



To prepare your crabs humanely, place them in the freezer for 1 hour to put them to sleep.