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Italy's claim to being the greatest of the world's cuisines has one key weakness: breakfast. But, argues John Irving, there's more to the story than first meets the eye.

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Sautéed mud crab with ginger and spring onion (keong chung hai)


This simple recipe requires few ingredients but it relies on premium fresh mud crabs. The secret lies with the ginger and spring onions - the more the mixture is stir-fried, the more fragrant it becomes, allowing more flavour to penetrate the crab. Chef Lui is particular about the crab he uses. He gets crabs from Queensland and the Northern Territory, but he finds the shells can vary, with one type thicker than the other. Crabs with thicker shells therefore require extra cooking time. He uses only live mud crabs and they're delivered to Flower Drum within 24 hours of being caught.

You'll need

2 cleaned mud crabs (about 1.8kg-2kg each) 1¼ tbsp potato starch (see note) For deep-frying: vegetable oil 6 spring onions chopped into 5cm lengths 80 gm ginger, bashed with the blunt end of your knife and sliced 200 ml chicken stock 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine 1 tsp sesame oil To serve: soy sauce

Method

  • 01
  • Kill crabs humanely. Lift the abdominal flap underneath, remove and discard it, then, holding the bottom end, pull away the top shell. Remove gills (discard) and twist off claws. Cut the body of each crab in half with legs attached then cut each section into 2 pieces. Crack the claws with a mallet or a cleaver. Dust all pieces lightly with 1 tbsp potato starch.
  • 02
  • Half-fill a large wok with vegetable oil and heat over high heat until the oil reaches 170C. Add claws and cook until shells turn red (3-4 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit and bubble up). Place cooked claws with remaining crab pieces in a metal colander placed over a large heatproof bowl and pour hot oil over to sear.
  • 03
  • Mix remaining potato starch with 1 tbsp water and set aside. Wipe wok clean, add 1½ tbsp cooking oil and place over medium-high heat. Add spring onion and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add crab and stock and a pinch of salt, cover with a lid and simmer until the crab is cooked (5-6 minutes). Remove lid and stir in potato starch slurry, Shaoxing wine and sesame oil, then serve hot with soy sauce to the side.

Note Potato starch is available from Asian grocers and select supermarkets.


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Drink Suggestion

Chablis or unoaked chardonnay will bring out the spring onion flavour.

Featured in

Sep 2014

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