The flu season has brought with it blocked noses. Consequentially, my wife has suffered loss of appetite. To bring back to life that which was lost I cooked some chilli crab. The flavour and spice hit it brings was sure to deliver and more...
Some of you are probably wondering why a photo of macadamia nuts is prominently displayed. Read on to find out.
The foundation of a good chilli crab is a good rempah. Rempah is what Indonesians and Malaysians call their spice paste made from fresh herbs and/or dry spices. And one essential ingredient in the rempah is candle nut. It is named as such as the nuts can be strung together and lighted up like candles.
I've never seen them in the Philippines but apparently we have what we call lumbang after which the town of Lumban, Laguna was named after. If you know more about this please do not hesitate to comment.
Although candle nuts are readily available in Australia there weren't any when I shopped for my chilli crab. Macadamia, which is both rich and buttery, is my chosen substitute. It's got none of the bitterness of the candle nuts but adds depth and texture to the sauce. Not many are aware of this but macadamia, although successfully cultivated in Hawaii, is in fact an Australian native.
The recipe below is a variation on the chilli crab recipe I posted here:
Chilli Crab ala Beancounter
3 fresh crabs cleaned and halved, leave the main shell whole
3 large onions
3 cloves of garlic
a knob of ginger
Fresh chillies to taste
Chilli flakes or dried chillies to taste
4-6 macadamia nuts
1 tablespoon belacan (shrimp paste)
1 large onion chopped (yes, another one)
1/2 cup tomato ketchup/sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup stock
Salt to taste
Oil - lots of it
1. First, you need to make the rempah or spice paste. Combine the onion (the first 3), garlic, ginger, various chillies, and macadamia nuts in a food processor. Blitz until they turn to paste. You make this as fine or chunky as you like.
2. Heat up some oil for deep frying.
3. Coat the crab pieces in flour. Shake off the excess flour. Fry the crab pieces until they are about half way done. This should take approximately 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
4. Heat up a bit of oil then saute the chopped onion (yes, the other one) until it is nicely caramelised.
5. Add the rempah and cook for about 10 minutes.
6. Add the tomato ketchup and the sugar. Cook for another 2 minutes.
7. Add the stock. Reduce the sauce to a consistency you prefer.
8. Add the fried crab pieces. Make sure all the crab is coated well by the sauce.
9. Lower the heat and simmer for another 5 minutes or until the crab pieces are cooked.
10. Garnish with some fresh coriander. Serve hot!