Cracking the crab code

Are you one of those who salivate seeing crab on the menu but never order it, fearing the messy affair of eating it? Well, eating a crab isn’t as messy if you know the right way to crack it.

india Updated: Apr 21, 2013 03:30 IST
Debasmita Ghosh
Debasmita Ghosh
Hindustan Times

Are you one of those who salivate seeing crab on the menu but never order it, fearing the messy affair of eating it? Well, eating a crab isn’t as messy if you know the right way to crack it. In fact, to make it an easy chore, restaurants these days not only provide an apron but even a crab cracker and picker. “Making a noise when eating crabs is normal so don’t be embarrassed. And if you find it difficult to use the cracker and picker, ditch it all and use your hands.

It’s all accepted in crab eating,” says chef Stanley Lum of My Humble House, ITC Maurya that recently hosted a crab festival.

Love crabs but find them difficult to eat? We tell you how to indulge without getting messy

Types, freshness and price
Now if that excites you and you want to try making crabs at home, remember, the most important thing in a crab dish is freshness. “Live crabs are always preferred to frozen ones. They should smell like the sea and not like fish or ammonia. They should feel heavy for their size and have their legs and claws intact. If hinges of the legs are elastic, it’s a fresh crab. If you are cooking them at home, always cook the same day as you buy them,” says chef Theodor Rudiferia of Hilton and DoubleTree by Hilton, Mayur Vihar. Mud crab, blue crab and soft shell crab are the common ones that are easily available in India. “Sri Lankan crabs are the biggest. They’re gigantic!” adds Lum.

In Delhi, you can find medium-sized crabs for R800/kg and above, at the INA Market and CR Park Market 1 and 2. Bigger ones start at R1,500/kg.

Singapore Chilli Crab

For Stir Frying Crab:
1kg live mud crab
15gm fresh red chili
30gm ginger chopped
30gm scallion
75gm chopped shallots

For Sauce:
100gm Thai Red Chilli
20gm dried red chilli
20gm garlic
20gm shallots
5gm hot bean sauce
10gm sugar
10gm salt
30gm oyster sauce
10ml beaten egg
5ml potato starch slurry

Chop crab into desired size, reserve shell for presentation. Deep fry crab in oil. Drain and transfer to a pan. Add the red chilli, shallots, chopped ginger, chopped scallion and stir fry. Paste the thai red chili garlic, shallots, dried red chilly and add to the pan containing the crabs. Add sugar, salt and some water. Add the oyster sauce and soy sauce and boil. Add the starch and egg and cook for a couple of minutes. Serve using the fried crab shell as garnish.
By chef Stanley Lum, My Humble House

Black Pepper Mud Crab

1 crab (big sized)
5gm ginger
5gm garlic
3gm onion
2gm red chilli
2gm cooking butter
20gm cornstarch
5gm chicken powder
10gm potato starch
5gm coriander leaves
250ml cooking oil
5gm salt
5gm sugar
5ml dark soya
5gm oyster sauce
2gm black pepper crushed

Clean the crab and cut into 8 pcs. Wrap the crab with cornstarch and deep fry till golden brown. Keep aside. Heat oil in wok. Sauté garlic, ginger, chopped red chili, with crushed black pepper powder, oyster sauce, dark soy. Add salt, chicken powder, sugar. Add water and golden brown fried crab. Braise the golden brown fried crab for 2 minutes and adjust thickening taking with potato starch. Arrange the crab in bowl nicely and garnish with coriander.
By chef Dong Long, The China Kitchen, Hyatt Regency

How to eat a crab
1 Hold a portion of the crab in your left hand, and crack it open with a seafood cracker.
2 Once the crab is cracked, it’s easy to remove the shells to expose the meaty part inside.
3 Finally, to eat, scoop out the flesh with a seafood picker.

First Published: Apr 20, 2013 18:20 IST