It’s that time of year again.. everyone knows Christmas is just a few weeks away but I’m talking ‘Crabbing Season’. One good thing about living in the southern hemisphere and having Christmas in Summer means that we can enjoy beautiful fresh seafood at this time of year. Fortunate for us Aussies we can source it from our very own backyard literally!
Living on the Gold Coast waterways definitely has its perks, as a guide we like to follow the rule of any month ending in “R” is best months for crabbing, though when December rolls around its serious business catching them in time for Christmas Day celebrations. My husband has become well-known for his crab catching so when the holidays start he is out on the canals everyday after work with my boys checking the pots for the daily catch. The boys love it and can’t wait for Dad to get home to throw on their life jackets and help with the retrieval even the two-year old now gets in on the action. It’s an exciting bonding time they share together that will stay with remember and pass down to their children one day.
Mudcrabs are the main catch here in Queensland while southern states catch more of the Blue Swimmer varieties. Similar in taste, though the Blue swimmer is a little smaller with less meat and have a blueish colouring. We like to save them up, invite family and friends over and do a big cook up. The bibs come out, and we get down and dirty licking every last bit of flavour off our fingertips now that is finger licking good!
Over the years we have experimented with different recipes which now my husband seems to think he has perfected the famous Singapore Chilli Mudcrab after our recent trip to Singapore earlier this year and yet to have anyone disagree.With seafood restaurants charging their own ‘market price’ you can easily pay over $100 for a meal like that, so learning the crabbing techniques and secrets over the years has certainly paid off in abundance.
My husband absolutely loves Seafood and will indulge in its glory at any opportunity he gets. When we first met I didn’t eat any Seafood at all to his amazement, well they do say opposites attract and that certainly was the case for us. Over the years I have experimented and had to broaden my horizons. I have made dishes for him that I have started to enjoy also and I have to say I have slowly learnt to like it too. I am still not as big of a seafood lover as hubby is which he doesn’t seem to mind, more for him he is quick to respond.
Apart from devouring a feast of Chilli Crabs as a meal on its own, it’s also nice to boil and de-shell and use the meat in other dishes such as pastas and risotto. The sweet seafood works so well with simple flavours also making sure not to use anything that’s too overpowering, you don’t want to spoil the beautiful flavour of the sea that these unique crustacean obtain. Garlic, white wine, onion and chilli are usually great accompaniments to add. Along with simple herbs such as parsley and vegetables like peas, asparagus and tomato. I used these ingredients to make this exquisite Crab Risotto which had my husband jaw dropped and drooling, you know what they say a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and after 13 years of marriage I certainly know what makes his tummy content. With Crab season well underway looks like there will be more crab recipes this summer to come stay tuned.
Crab and Pea Risotto with Tomato, Parsley and White Wine
A beautiful delicate Seafood dish to impress the most fussy of foodie friends or A romantic dinner for two to spoil the other half
1 tb butter
1 small onion finely diced
1 stalk of celery finely diced
1 tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1 garlic clove crushed
1 ts thyme leaves
zest of a lemon
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 can diced tomato
2 tb flat leaf parsley finely chopped
4 cups stock (vegetable or chicken is fine if you don’t have crab stock)
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
1 cup cooked crab
freshly ground salt and pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
- Heat stock in a small saucepan on low heat
- In a medium/large saucepan on high heat melt butter then add onion and saute for 3 mins until softened.
- Add celery, garlic, cayenne, thyme, lemon zest and pinch of salt saute for a further 3 mins
- Add the rice and stir through, followed by the white wine lower heat and allow to simmer until the wine has reduced by half
- Stirring constantly start adding ladles of the stock one ladle at a time, making sure to add another ladle once the stock is absorbed. You need to constantly watch and stir the pot.
- Once the rice is tender (al dente) but still a little firm add the peas, diced tomato, parsley and cooked crab meat, stirring and adding some more stock mix through and finish off by adding the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.