"This dish is basically just crab," says Jordan Toft of Sydney's Bert's. "Beautiful young mud crab which is roasted just enough so the delicate meat pulls from the shell and concentrates in flavour. Picked and re-shelled for ease, the only dressing is the reserved tomalley (essentially the crab's liver) from the head and a side of mayonnaise. It reminds me of my first visit to Venice where I enjoyed a similar dish some time ago, and I think it's an elegant way to kick off a long lunch, setting the tone for the proceedings."
- 3 live male mud crabs (about 600gm each)
- 60 ml (¼ cup) rice bran oil
- 3 tsp verjuice
- Shaved ice, to serve
- ¼ cup thinly sliced chives
- 3 lemon halves, wrapped in muslin (optional), to serve
- 6 warm small soft white rolls, to serve
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 3 tsp Dijon mustard
- 100 ml grapeseed oil
- 2 tsp lemon juice, or to taste
- 1Kill crabs humanely, without damaging the top shell. Lift the abdominal flap underneath, remove and discard it, then, holding the bottom end, pull away the top shell. Discard gills, and scrape out and reserve yellow-brown tomalley. Twist off and crack claws, then cut the body of each crab into 4 pieces with legs attached. Cut the body of each crab into quarters. Scrub the underside and edges of top shells to remove any residue and return tomalley to shells.
- 2Preheat oven to 210°C. Transfer crab bodies and claws to a large oven tray, roast for 5 minutes, then add top shells (with tomalley) to oven on a separate tray. Continue to roast until crab flesh turns opaque and is just cooked (4-5 minutes; claws may take 1-2 minutes longer). Cool on trays (10 minutes), then refrigerate until chilled (30-40 minutes). Remove some of the shell from the claws to expose the meat, then pick crab meat from body and legs into a bowl, stirring through any custardy crab juices from the oven tray. Scrape tomalley from shells and pass through a fine sieve into a bowl.
- 3For mayonnaise, blend yolks, vinegar and mustard in a small food processor. With the motor running, gradually add oil in a thin, steady stream until slightly thickened and emulsified (1-2 minutes). Add lemon juice, season to taste and pulse to combine.
- 4Whisk rice bran oil and verjuice in a bowl, add to crab and toss to coat. Season to taste and spoon into shells. Serve on ice with claws, chives, black pepper, mayonnaise, tomalley, lemon and bread rolls.
Drink suggestion: A dry, spicy grüner veltliner, such as the hidden gem picked late as a Smaragd-style by the legendary Rudi Pichler on the banks of the Danube in Wachau, Austria. Drink suggestion by Adrian Filiuta.