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Reader lunch: Fred's, Sydney
24.01.2017

Beat the queues to Sydney's most sought-after table and join us for a knockout summery lunch at Fred's.

Greg Malouf returns to Dubai
24.01.2017

After spending the past 12 months writing books and doing one-off dinners the Australian chef is poised to open an exciting new restaurant in the Middle Eastern capital.

Merivale’s The Chicken Shop opens this week
24.01.2017

Ben Greeno’s long-awaited side-hustle, The Chicken Shop, is opening on Australia Day, right next to The Paddington.

Nour Sydney kicks off guest chef series
23.01.2017

Ghostboy Cantina did it with Temp Taquero in Dixon House and at Tio's. Automata did it with Auto.Lab. And now Nour, the powder-pink themed modern Lebanese eatery in Surry Hills, is joining the club with a guest chef series, too.

Our third Chinese-language edition is out now
23.01.2017

Dedicated to being the best guide to Australia, our latest Chinese-language edition includes a checklist of the country's essential new restaurants, our most beautiful beaches, and much more.

Blanca Bar & Dining to open in Bondi this week
23.01.2017

Bjorck describes the food as "European-style," but with "nice fresh Japanese flavours".

Jackalope hotel opens on the Mornington Peninsula
20.01.2017

Glamour, sophistication and luxury have arrived on the Peninsula, with a crack-team of staff assembled to make it a success.

Stokehouse, Melbourne Review
19.01.2017

An Australian dining landmark rises from the ashes: the Stokehouse is back ready to please the crowds for at least another generation to come, writes Michael Harden.

Cooking crab


Learn how to create restaurant-worthy wonders with this crustacean.

You'll need

1 cup rock salt 2 lemons, halved 2 (350gm each) green crabs   Spiced salt dipping sauce 1 tbsp sea salt 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 1 tsp finely grated lemon rind 1 tbsp fried shallots (see note) 1/3 cup finely chopped coriander leaves 1 tbsp lemon juice 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil ¼ tsp sesame oil

Method

  • 01
  • Place rock salt, lemons and 4 litres of water in a large saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Add crabs and return to the boil. Cook for 6 minutes (adjust cooking time according to weight, as explained above).
  • 02
  • Place crabs in a bowl of iced water to chill.
  • 03
  • Remove triangular flap underneath crab and lift top shell away from body – most of the internal organs will come away, too. Discard shell and innards. Break off the eyes and lift out and discard feathery gills (also known as dead man’s fingers). Wipe crab with a damp cloth to clean out remaining innards.
  • 04
  • For the spiced salt dipping sauce, combine salt, garlic, lemon rind, fried shallots and coriander in a small bowl. Stir in lemon juice and oils and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.
  • 05
  • Using a crab cracker, crack legs and claws, then, using a sharp knife, cut crabs into halves or quarters and serve with spiced salt dipping sauce.

Note Fried shallots are available from Asian grocers.


The crab is sometimes regarded as the poorer cousin of lobster, but crab lovers contend that though you have to fight to free every morsel from the shell, the meat is far superior in succulence and sweetness. They're eaten with gusto around the world, and regional variations - the hairy crab, much sought-after in China, the humble British brown crab or the land crabs of Thailand - are prized by aficionados. Methods of preparation vary widely, but whether it's a good ol'-fashioned crab boil in the Deep South or pepper crab in Singapore, the common factor is the gung-ho sleeves-up enthusiasm of the people eating the dish.

Crabmeat can, of course, be purchased already picked from its shell. But the quality of meat is rarely as good as the fresh stuff, and you miss out on the satisfaction of doing the job yourself.

When choosing crabs, ensure they're heavy for their size, with no signs of blackening around the joints. One of the surest signs of freshness is the smell - redolent of the sea. If a crab is past its best, it will reek of ammonia.

A crab sold 'green' is raw and needs to be cooked. If you want it in pieces for a dish, such as a stirfry, cut it up (follow the method from step 3) before cooking. For a live crab, which is the way mud crab is sold, the RSPCA recommends putting it to sleep by placing it in a freezer below 4C before cooking. The time needed varies between crabs - you'll know it's asleep when you can handle it without resistance. Purchase crabs live (although blue swimmer crabs are almost never sold live) when possible as the flesh breaks down quickly once a crab is dead.

Boiling a whole crab couldn't be simpler. As with most seafood the cooking time is short. Take care as the flesh turns stringy if it's even slightly over-cooked. Ensure your water is well salted (about the saltiness of sea water - around ¼ cup of rock salt per litre) and that it is at a rolling boil before you add the crab. You need to boil a crab for eight minutes per every 500gm it weighs (not the combined total weight if you're cooking more than one). Placing it in iced water afterwards will help prevent spoiling.

The most succulent flesh is found in the claws, and a crab cracker (a nutcracker will do) and long metal pick make the job much easier. They can be purchased from most kitchenware stores. It is almost impossible to remove raw crabmeat from the shell; if you're making a dish with picked crabmeat, follow the boiling method opposite and remove the flesh after cooking. This can be a somewhat messy business, so pick your crabs over several layers of newspaper. The paper will soak up any liquid, and can be rolled up with the shells and neatly discarded.

Speaking of mess, it's always a good idea to have fingerbowls and plenty of napkins on hand if you're serving guests crab in the shell. A wedge of lemon or splash of tea in the fingerbowls will make them more effective. Alan Davidson quotes Damon Runyon on the matter in his superb North Atlantic Seafood. His advice for eating crab is with the hands: "Some high-toned folks use those dinky oyster forks, but the fingers are far speedier and more efficient," and, he adds, the best place to eat crab is in the bathtub.


At A Glance

  • Serves 2 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 2 people

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Jan 2008

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