Chefs' Recipes

Amy Hamilton's crab with fried-shallot butter and green peppercorns

Fact: fried-shallot butter makes everything taste better.

By Amy Hamilton
  • 20 mins preparation
  • 30 mins cooking plus chilling
  • Serves 4
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"If there's one food item at Liberté that I would consider bottling and selling to the masses, it would be fried-shallot butter," says owner-chef Amy Hamilton. "It makes everything taste better. Don't waste your time making a small amount, otherwise its absence will haunt you in your sleep."


  • 2 live mud crabs (about 1kg each), dispatched humanely
  • 100 ml canola oil
  • 60 gm (¼ cup) fresh green peppercorns (see note)
  • 2 tsp cracked black peppercorns
  • Juice of 1 lemon (or to taste), plus lemon wedges to serve
  • Coriander leaves or garlic flowers, to serve
Fried-shallot butter
  • 3 golden shallots, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 50 ml canola oil
  • 125 gm butter, at room temperature
  • 75 gm fried shallots (see note)
  • 3 tsp Maggi Seasoning (see note)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (or to taste)


  • 1
    Lift the abdominal flap underneath the crabs, remove and discard them, then pull off the top shells. Discard gills and scrape out and reserve yellow-brown tomalley. Remove and discard gills. Cut each crab into four pieces, cracking claws and legs.
  • 2
    For fried-shallot butter, cook shallots, garlic and oil over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden (12-15 minutes). Cool. Process butter in a small food processor, scraping down sides occasionally, until light and fluffy. Add shallot mixture, fried shallots, Maggi Seasoning, and black pepper and lemon juice to taste, and process until combined. (If you do make extra butter, wrap it in plastic wrap, roll into a cylinder, and refrigerate in an airtight container until required; butter will keep like this for 2 weeks.)
  • 3
    Heat half the canola oil in a large wok over high heat. Working in batches, add half each of the crab, fried-shallot butter, green peppercorns and cracked black pepper. Reduce heat to medium-high, partially cover with a lid, and cook, tossing occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add half the tomalley and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until crab flesh turns opaque and is just cooked (3-5 minutes). Season to taste with lemon juice and salt, remove from wok and keep warm. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Transfer crab to a large platter, top with coriander and serve with lemon wedges.


Green peppercorns are available from Thai grocers and select greengrocers. Fried shallots are available from Asian supermarkets and select supermarkets. Maggi seasoning is available from supermarkets. RSPCA Australia's advice for killing crustaceans humanely is to render them insensible by placing them in the freezer (under 4°C) until the tail or outer mouth parts can be moved without resistance; crustaceans must then be killed quickly by cutting through the centreline of the head and thorax. For crabs, insert a knife into the head. Drink suggestion: A floral gewürztraminer with a hint of honeyed sweetness, such as the Brave New Wine 2017 Gerwurlizter. Or, a crisp, clean coastal chenin such as Express Winemakers 2017 Mt Barker Chenin Blanc. Drink suggestion by Keryn Giles.