Bobby Chinn introduces a dish that is very simple to make and fiery hot. It uses a native ingredient of Asia – pepper – which is the most widely traded spice in the world in monetary terms. This dish uses black pepper instead of chilli pepper, punctuated with fresh ginger which also imparts a bit of heat. While most people equate spiciness with chilli – especially in Asia – chilli pepper is not indigenous to the East and was in fact introduced to Asia by Christopher Columbus in the 1500s. However, black pepper is native to India and has been used as a spice since pre-historic times. It was the main ingredient in making a dish spicy-hot, way before chilli pepper found its way to Asia.
• 2lbs large mud crabs or prawns, claws cracked, shells removed and cleaned. Drain to dry.
• 4 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
• 3 or 4 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
• 4 tbsp butter
• 10 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
• 10 slices young ginger
• 1 or 2 tbsp oyster sauce
• 2 tsp dark soya sauce
• 2 tsp sugar (optional)
• Coriander leaves to garnish
• Oil for deep frying
1. Dry-fry* black pepper in a wok or frying pan till fragrant. Remove and keep aside. The crabs taste best if they are deep fried in very hot oil first – deep fry on all sides till the crabs turn red. Drain and keep the oil aside. For soft shelled crabs, pat the crabs dry, cut each crab into 4, coat with flour and deep fry till golden browned and crispy.
2. Heat a wok, add the butter and when it melts and is hot, add the garlic, ginger and chilli and stir fry for 3 minutes till the mixture is fragrant.
3. Add the oyster sauce, soya sauce and sugar and stir well before adding the pepper. Stir fry a few seconds on high heat, then add the crabs and stir fry one minute.
Serve with the garnish.
* Dry Frying: is an old fashioned cooking method where food is stir fried till fragrant in a wok or frying pan without oil.