Blue Swimmer crabs are available in Australia all year, but are in peak supply during summer and are a quintessential Aussie ingredient over the warmer months.
You can buy crabs live and humanely kill them at home, or buy uncooked crab meat from your local fishmonger or fish market. It’s usually pre-bagged, which makes it easy to cook at home by popping the bag in a pot of simmering water. This “boil in the bag” method also retains the excellent flavour of the crab. Crabs are versatile little crustaceans and we used them a lot on the menu at The Cut Bar & Grill.
Here are three of my favourite ways to prepare them.
Crab cakes (serves 3)
Blue swimmer crab is perfect to make crab cakes: the trick is to retain large flakes of crab, which gives the cakes great texture. For this dish, I recommend buying a pre-bagged portion of uncooked crab meat from your local fishmonger.
Take approximately 150g of shelled and deveined green prawns and about 150g of flathead and blitz together in a food processor until it’s well broken down and paste-like in texture.
Chop a small birdseye chilli, about 15g of finely grated ginger and a combined handful of chopped coriander and parsley leaves. Mix these with the fish paste, along with a sprinkling of fresh breadcrumbs, to help hold the mixture together.
Fold the crab meat through the fish paste – don’t overmix as you want to retain relatively large pieces of crab. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes then coat with panko breadcrumbs. Shallow fry on each side until golden and finish in moderate oven for about 5 minutes.
Crab salad (serves 3-4)
Blue swimmer crab is the perfect, delicate ingredient to incorporate into a salad. Buy a pre-bagged portion of uncooked blue swimmer crab from your local fishmonger. Pop it in a pan of simmering water and poach over medium heat for 6-7 minutes. Take the bag out of the pan and put it in a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking process and cool down the crab meat.
To make your salad, mix the cool crab flakes with chunks of an avocado, a diced mango and some chopped leaves of either iceberg or baby cos lettuce, which will add a lovely textural crunch.
Make a dressing using about 15g of finely grated ginger, a finely diced birdseye chilli, a quarter of a cup of olive oil, a tablespoon of white wine vinegar and the juice of half a lemon. Give the ingredients a good mix.
Combine the salad and dressing and refrigerate before serving. This salad is best served ice cold. You could even chill your serving plate or bowl in the fridge for few hours, prior to serving.
Crab & avocado mousse trifle (makes approximately 8-10)
Blend an avocado in a food processor, or use a fork to mash it in a bowl. Poach a bag of uncooked blue swimmer crab in a pan of simmering water (as above). Leave it to cool, then season the crab with salt and pepper, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of finely chopped parsley.
Make a Marie Rose – or cocktail sauce – by combining a quarter of a cup of tomato ketchup, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, about 10g of finely grated horseradish (or horseradish paste) and a slug of brandy. Add about four tablespoons of mayonnaise at the end to loosen up the sauce and adjust the quantities of each ingredient until you’re happy with the taste.
Use chilled espresso glasses to serve the crab and avocado mousse trifle, by alternatively layering the avocado, poached crab and Marie Rose sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.