One of the advantages of living in a coastal town is
buying lovely, fresh local seafood while it is seasonal.
When we were children we would catch the haphazard crabs roaming the rocks and cook them in
cans that simmered over an open fire that were filled with salt water. So simple and yet so delicious.
Little did we realise that we were starting a life long obsession, cooking fresh crabs with delightful flavours.
When we were children, crabs, fish, abalone and oysters were abundant and readily available.
Now, as an adult, I still adore crabs and also spicy food.
Chilli, garlic, turmeric and ginger are at the top of my list.
With the onset of June, we know the oysters, crabs and prawns are not as big or plentiful during winter.
When I saw these gorgeous local blue swimmer crabs, I couldn't resist having one last seasonal feast.
These mussels (sourced from south of Sydney) were an added bonus and a welcome addition to our meal.
My recipe is adapted from the many chilli crab recipes available.
Chilli Blue Swimmer Crab with Mussels
8 fresh big blue swimmer crabs
1 kilo fresh black mussels
1/3 cup olive oil
10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 fresh long red cayenne chillies, chopped
3/4 cup tomato passata
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
1/4 cup shaoxing wine
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped, for garnish
To clean the crabs, lift off the top shell with a knife from the underside then pull off the top shell. Cut crabs in half, then into quarters, preferably with a cleaver, and discard the grey soft matter. Rinse under cold water to clean the crab. Roughly use the back of the knife to lightly push on and crack the claws.
In a large frying pan heat the olive oil and fry the garlic and chilli for about 1 minute over a medium heat. Add the crab pieces and give everything a stir to incorporate flavours.
Add the tomato passata, white sugar, fish sauce, shaoxing wine, malt vinegar and black pepper, stirring to incorporate the flavours.
Cover with a lid, reduce heat to low and cook for about 8 minutes. Remove lid and add cleaned and debearded mussles to mixture. Put lid back on, give it a mild shake and cook for 3 more minutes.
Take off lid and add the chopped coriander leaves, tossing to combine.
Taste for seasoning, adding more pepper and salt to taste.
Serve on a big platter, accompanied by a big loaf of crusty bread and a fresh, clean garden salad.
Buon appetito, enjoy, Merryn.