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Stir-fried blue swimmer crab with salted black bean, chilli and native basil

You'll need

1 kg blue swimmer crabs (if live, place in freezer for 1 hour to put them to sleep) 1 tbsp peanut oil or vegetable oil 3 red shallots, finely sliced 15 gm (5cm × 1cm piece) ginger, julienned 2 tbsp fermented salted black beans (see note) 2 large red chillies, finely sliced on the diagonal 3 tbsp Shaoxing wine or dry sherry 1 tsp white sugar 1 tbsp tamari or light soy sauce 1 tsp brown rice vinegar or malt vinegar 1 tsp sesame oil 15 gm native basil (see note)   Chilli sauce 8 large red chillies, roughly chopped 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 75 gm ginger, roughly chopped 125 ml (1/2 cup) peanut oil or vegetable oil ½ tsp brown sugar


  • 01
  • For the chilli sauce, process chilli, garlic and ginger in a food processor or blender until finely chopped. Heat oil in a wok until the surface shimmers, reduce heat to low-medium and add chilli mixture. Cook, stirring regularly, for about 3 minutes to cook out the flavours, then add sugar and cook for 1 minute, stirring regularly so the sauce doesn't catch on the base of the wok. Stir in tamari or soy sauce, reduce heat to low and cook, still stirring, for 10 minutes until the sauce becomes dark and the oil starts to leach out. The chilli sauce can be used straightaway or cooled and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Makes 240gm (1 cup).
  • 02
  • To prepare the crabs, place the crabs head down on the chopping board and prise off the top shells, then chop the crab bodies in half and remove the feathery grey gills. Discard the innards (or save some of the "mustard" for a mayonnaise) and rinse the crab. Crack the larger claws with a mallet or the back of your chef's knife. Place crab in a shallow heatproof bowl that will fit inside your steamer basket, then place bowl in a steamer over boiling water (or place straight into the steamer) and steam, covered, for 8-9 minutes until the crabmeat is white rather than translucent.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok, then add the shallot, ginger and black beans, and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the chilli, then the Shaoxing wine. Stir to combine and reduce until almost evaporated, then add the sugar and 120gm of chilli sauce and stir-fry until combined. Add a little water or stock, tamari or soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil.
  • 04
  • Once the crab is cooked, mix the basil into the sauce, then add the crab and toss well to combine, ensuring you don't break up the pieces.

Note Fermented salted black beans are available from Asian grocers. Native basil is available from; otherwise substitute mint or coriander.

Check out our interview with Kylie Kwong about Chinese New Year.

At A Glance

  • Serves 2 - 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 2 - 4 people

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