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Crab-Tastic … Shell Shocked (Part 1) - Gua Sot Sa-Te – Wok-Tosed Crab In Sate Sauce

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Crab is so much better when it's fresh and getting to grips with a live one doesn't have to be a traumatic business.

Strongly recommend buying live crab and cooking and dressing it yourself, there are two recommended "humane" ways of preparing crab for cooking. The first is to turn a live crab on its back and drive an awl, or sturdy skewer between the eyes, then through the centre of the body. The other way is to put the crab in the freezer, to send it to sleep.

Description: Crab-Tastic … Shell Shocked

To cook the crab: Bring a pan of heavily-salted water to the boil (about 1 tbsp salt per litre). Plunge the crab in, bring and simmer for about 15 minutes for the first 500g, then an extra 5-6 minutes for every additional 500g. Remove from the water and leave to cool.

To get the meat out of the crab: Twist the legs and claws off, then crack them open with a hammer and remove the white meat with a lobster pick or teaspoon.

Now turn the crab on its back and twist off the pointed flap. Push the tip of a table knife between the main shell and the body section. Twist the blade to separate the two, then push the body up and remove from the outer shell. Scoop out the brown meat and put it to one side. From the other section, remove the dead man's fingers (the father-like, grey gills attached to the body) and discard. Split the body in half then split each half in half again. Pick out the white meat.

To dress the crab, or serve it the traditional way back in the shell; Look for the line surrounding the open part and push the edge in gently with your fingers. It will break along the line, leaving a neat cavity. Wash the shell and dry. Mix up the brown meat, adding a little mayonnaise if you wish, then spoon into the centre of the shell, placing the white meat on either side. Alternatively, just serve a good spoonful on each plate, with a wedge of lemon and brown bread and butter.

Gua Sot Sa-Te – Wok-Tosed Crab In Sate Sauce

Our time spent with family in the Mekong Delta was all about eating local dishes and cooking with local produce. My father created the spicy sate sauce recipe, used here and in other recipes, while attemping to make the traditional version. Vietnamese sate sauce is not like the malay-style peanut satay sauce – the Vietnammese version is chilli-based and is used in stir-fries and added to broths.

Description: Gua Sot Sa-Te – Wok-Tosed Crab In Sate Sauce

Gua Sot Sa-Te – Wok-Tosed Crab In Sate Sauce

Serves 4-6 as part of a shared meal

·         2 live crabs, blue swimmer or mud crab, 400g each Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

·         Potato starch, for dusting

·         1/2 green pepper, thinly sliced

·         3 red Asian shallots, finely chopped

·         2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

·         4 tbsp spicy sate sauce

·         3 spring onions, cut into 5cm lengths

·         2 long red chillies, thinly sliced on the diagonal

To prepare your crabs humanely, place them in the freezer for 1 hour to put them to sleep. Remove the upper shell of the crab, pick off the gills, which look like little fingers, and throw them away. Clean the crab under running water and drain. Place the crab on its stomach and chop the crab in half lengthways with a heavy cleaver, then chop each half into four pieces. With the back of the cleaver, gently crack each claw - this makes it easier to extract the meat.

Pour the oil into a wok and heat to 200°C, or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 5 seconds. Dust the crab pieces with potato starch, shaking of the excess. Deep-fry the crab in batches for 3 minutes, turning once, until golden brown. Remove the crab from the wok and drain on paper towel. Remove the oil, reserving two tablespoons, and clean the wok.

Heat the reserved oil in the wok, then add the pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the shallots and garlic and fry until fragrant. Add the sate sauce and stir for 1 minute. Return the crab to the wok with the spring onions and toss, making sure to coat the crab well. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with chilli.

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