Cristang Black-Pepper Crab

  • 2 large, fresh mud crabs
  • 4 spring onions (scallions), sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fine shreds of fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • sprig of fresh curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely cracked black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons canned, salted black beans rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons kecap manis (sweet black soy sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 or 2 hot chillies, sliced (optional)
  • peanut oil for deep frying
  1. Clean then cleave each crab body in two. Detach the large claws and crack the shell.
  2. Heat peanut oil in a wok and when hot but not smoking, add the crabs and fry, turning them in the oil, until the shells turn red and the crabs are half cooked. Lift out the half cooked crabs and set aside in a dish. Leave 3 tablespoons of oil in the wokand return to the heat. 
  3. Fry the spring onions, ginger, garlic and curry leaves, stirring, over gentle heat, taking care the garlic does not burn. 
  4. Add the black pepper and stir-fry for only a few seconds, then quickly add the black beans, soy sauce, sugar and boiling water, return crabs to the wok, stir to coat with the mixture, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with lid. 
  5. Allow to steam for 10-15 minutes. Periodically check to ensure that the liquid volume is adequate.
  6. Just before serving, add the butter and chillies if used, toss to distribute melted butter over the crabs, and serve accompanied by hot  steamed rice.