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Australian mud crabs tend to have the finest flesh. Never buy a dead mud crab. There is nothing more disappointing than ‘mushy’ crab meat when you’re expecting sweet, crunchy flesh. The recipe for chilli paste follows but to make life simple, use the same quantity of Neil Perry Roast Chilli Paste, available at Simon Johnson, David Jones and Coles Supermarkets.
Turn the crab upside and push a chopstick through from the “V” in the tail and straight out between the eyes to kill it. This is by far the quickest way.
Pull off the top shell, discard the brown lungs and wash.
Pull off the claws, chop the body in half, and crack the hard shell on the claws with the back of a cleaver.
Pre heat the vegetable oil to 180° Celsius in a large wok and place the crab in.
Fry the crab until half cooked, then remove from the oil and drain well on kitchen paper.
To a large wok, add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and the coconut cream.
Cook on a high heat until the coconut cream fats separate and it becomes fragrant, for about 3 minutes.
Add the chilli paste, lime leaf julienne and chilli halves and fry out until fragrant. This should take about 2 minutes or a touch longer for the homemade paste.
Add the palm sugar and allow to caramelise, then the fish sauce. The flavours of hot, salty, sour and sweet should be balanced.
Add the coconut, bring to the boil and simmer for a minute.
At this point, add the crab to the wok and continue to stir-fry until just cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the Thai basil and lime juice.
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