Chilli lemongrass mudcrabs
The phone rang. It was KO. It was one of those calls that set the heart and saliva racing.
"Wanna buy some mud crabs?" she said.
"How much?" inquire I.
"A tenner each" she says.
"I'll be there as soon as I can!"
I left the house so fast my son didn't get any shoes on his feet.
When I got there, six shiny blue-black crustaceans sat in a box, tied appropriately and covered with mangrove leaf to keep them from running amok. Probably seven odd kilos worth. $30 bucks a kilo retail up here. Quick sums done, a tenner each is a bargain. I take four, DI takes two. I had arrived by bike and trailer, having no way to transport the crabs, DI agrees to deliver them. And to join us for dinner with his delightful younger muse.
I went shopping for the ingredients necessary. My folks, who were visiting from interstate and more than a bit partial to a bit of spicy muddy, had to be invited, and all the prep done. My wife had to be informed of a change in dinner plans. Most of all I needed beer. And some Sauvignon Blanc. No time to waste! I took a large chunk of lemongrass and some kaffir lime leaf from the garden and set about making the flavourbase.
Chilli lemongrass mudcrabs
one mudcrab per person, about a kg each
Four stalks of lemongrass, bashed and cut into matchsticks
Large knob of ginger cut into matchsticks
Two kaffir lime leaves julienned hair fine
six cloves garlic cut into matchsticks
bunch coriander's roots, washed
bunch coriander leaves and stems chopped, reserved for last
tow ts sambal oleck (i made this evil stuff myself)
juice of a lime
tbsp palm sugar
Five beers and two hours later i had all of the ingredients inbeutiful little stacks in bowls, my mis en place ready to go. Then DI arrived with the cargo. We iced down the crabs in a recycling tub, the poured five litres of water in to make a slurry. Recycling tubs hve holes in th bottom don't they. . . Within seconds crabby water spilled all over the floor leaving DI and I to mop furiously and upend the crabs into the sink. After a time, and a Stella Artois or two, we took on the task of breaking the crabs down. We set up on the old butchers' block in sight of the PC. With Withnail and I on, we broke up the crabs with gusto (and more beer). Into to fridge with them and a cursory mop of the floor, DI was off to Byron Bay for a shower.
Down came the rain. Guests arrived, wine was opened. Where's DI. The phone rings:
"It's flooding down here, we can't get there!" cries DI
We start without him.
Heat a large wok, add some vegetable oil and throw in all the ingredients except the crabs, lime juice, palm sugar and corriander leaf. Heat until fragrant. The add the crabs and remaining ingredients, except the corriander leaf. Turn the crabs every now and then. Turn off the heat when they turn orange and add the coriander leaf.
I just served them in the wok, with brown rice on the side (absolutely unnecessary I might add) and an elbow deep fingerbowl. Oh and lots of beer and Sav Blanc. Divine. Hours of cracking, gnawing and sucking, there were two pieces of crab left. Seven kg of muddie is definitely enough for four adults as a main :-)
The next day, I went to see DI at work, with my bum on fire and a pain in the back of my head.
"Please tell me they were awful JP, please"
I couldn't lie to him. All I could do was grin like a cheshire cat.