This dish is inspired by the Broome culture, honouring the mighty mud crabs. In the early 1900’s the Malaysian, Singaporeans, Japanese and Chinese pearl divers introduced using spices and curries, which inspired locals to explore with their cooking. Chilli mud crabs is famous around the north west Kimberley Region of Western Australia and everyone has their own secret ways and recipes for a mean chilli Mud crab dish. I find people don’t experiment enough with mud crabs though. They just prefer to boil it up in salty water. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating mud crabs like that too, but mud crabs have such a beautiful way of soaking up flavours. What is better than sucking the stunning soft morsels out of the shell, filled with rich flavours of native lemon myrtle and a hint of chilli?
2 whole live mud crabs
1 whole onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
5 dried whole chillies
1/3 cup of peanut oil
2 cans of diced tomatoes
2 tbsp of palm sugar
2 tbsp of curry powder
5 lemon myrtle leaves, dried or fresh
½ cup vegetable stock
Cleaning and preparing mud crab
- Humanely kill the crab either by putting it in the freezer for 20 minutes or putting it in an ice slurry for 30 minutes
- Clean the shell of the crab under running water.
- Lift the tail flap and push your thumb under the top shell near the flipper and pull the shell off the crab.
- Remove the gills, guts and mouthpart away from the body, rinse out any muck and sand from the inside.
- Remove the claws from the body.
- Crack each portion of the claws with something hard or the back of a knife – just enough to be able to access the meat when cooked.
- Cut the middle of the mud crab in half and then cut two legs per piece off the bodies.
- Heat peanut oil, diced onions and dried chillies in a large wok or frying pan until onions starts to become transparent.
- Add curry powder, lemon myrtle leaves and garlic and stir well.
- Add canned tomatoes and palm sugar, add liquid vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
- Add your well-chopped mud crab pieces and stir the crabs so it is covered in sauce.
- Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until crab shells starts to turn a vibrant orange colour.
- Serve up in a dish with crusty hot bread.