I'm a really lazy cook, so if I can take shortcuts, or leave an appliance to do things for me, I will.
I'm also not at all snobby about using spicepacks, provided that they're good enough that they don't taste like spice-packs. This 'proper' kind of spicepack is really easy to find in Asia, but it seems the rest of the world hasn't really caught up yet...
Now that a nugget has transferred to an Oz server, these proper spice-pack crafting mats are harder to find, and I've yet to find one that has a proper chilli crab taste. So I've cobbled together my own version of (lazy) chilli crab that, although it uses at least 50% totally untraditional ingredients, tastes really authentic, and is barely any work at all.
Right! Onwards with the weirdness!
- 6 Crabs! Preferably meaty ones like mud crabs or sand crabs (I used sand crabs). I bought mine pre-cooked, but there's no reason you can't cook your own. Here's a great guide on how to cook and rip crabs apart most satisfyingly. RAWRRR.
- Ajvar - 1 mountainously heaped tablespoon per 3 crabs
- Chinese cooking wine - 1 part
- Soy sauce - 2 parts
- Mirin - 2 parts
- Balsamic vinegar - 1 part
- Crispy prawn chilli paste - 1 mountainously heaped tablespoon per 6 crabs or to taste. I love this brand, but you can use any brand you like
- Cornstarch - just a little bit to gloopify the sauce a bit
- Eggs - 1 egg per 2 crabs
- Dump ajvar, cooking wine, soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, cornstarch, and prawn paste into a pan big enough to hold at least 3 crab halves.
- Stir the stuff about until it's mostly homogenous.
- Cook on low heat for about 30 min, stirring every 10ish min.
- Beat the 3 eggles together, then put them aside to await their doom.
- Dismember the crabs. If you haven't cooked them yet, cook them before dismembering. It's okay to give little happy growls and roars as you yank the shells apart.
- As you yank the tops of the crabs off, you may find scary looking gloopy gloop inside. DON'T THROW IT AWAY! Throw it in the simmering pan of sauce instead, and give it a good stir when you do. This makes the sauce wonderfully crabby. For anything else that isn't scary-looking-but-tasty-gloop, discard it as the guide above says. You can split the crabs in half after yanking off the tops by simply folding them inwards. If they're cooked, they'll break pretty easily.
- After 30min (that's how long it took me to process 6 crabs), or when the sauce has reduced by about 40-50%, dump in the beaten eggs and stir it all together until it's good and gloopy.
- Start adding as many crab bits as will fit into your pan.
- Coat the crab bits in the gloop, and mush the gloop into any crevices.
- Let each crab bit sit in the pan for at least 30s after coating and mushing before transferring to a plate.
- Do the top shells last, because it's really hard to stack stuff on top of them.
- When all the crab bits have been coated, mushed, heated and transferred...
- ...fallen ravenously upon crabbles and eat for the next 2 hours.
If you have access to salted egg yolks, smash one up and add it in at step 1. :( I really missed having that in the sauce, but I couldn't find any that day. It still tastes really good without it, but any of you who know salted egg yolks will know the difference. ;)