Kdarm chha mrech kchay

Kdarm chha mrech kchay

Kep crab with fresh Kampot peppercorns

By
From
The Complete Asian Cookbook
Serves
6
Photographer
Alan Benson

It’s hard to imagine a more decadent way to spend a lazy January afternoon in Kep than sitting in a restaurant perched over the bay on stilts, the gentle lapping of waves below providing the soundtrack for a memorable leisurely lunch. Our table was against the railing that separates the restaurant from the fishermen at work; some on boats mending nets, others wading into the shallows to empty and re-set crab pots. All this, while sipping on young coconut juice and cajoling every last morsel of succulent flesh from freshly caught and cooked blue swimmers laced with fresh, bitey, green Kampot peppercorns. Now that’s what I call finger-licking good.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1kg blue swimmer crabs, raw or cooked
6 drupes fresh green peppercorns, (see note)
or 2 tablespoons green peppercorns in brine, drained
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 red capsicum, seeded and sliced
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
10 spring onions, thinly sliced

Sauce

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons palm sugar, grated
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon cornflour

Method

  1. Remove the large shells from the crabs and discard the fibrous tissue under the shell. Divide each crab into four portions, breaking each body in half and separating the claws from the body, leaving the legs attached. Drain on paper towel.
  2. If using green peppercorns in brine, rinse and bruise gently. If fresh drupes are very big, break them into smaller bunches.
  3. To make the sauce, mix together the soy sauce, oyster sauce and palm sugar in a bowl, stirring until dissolved. Add the fish sauce, and 60 ml water and stir well, then set aside.
  4. To prepare the raw crab, heat half of the oil in a wok or large heavy-based frying pan over high heat. Add the capsicum and stir-fry for 2 minutes, or until softened slightly, then remove to a plate.
  5. Heat the remaining oil in the wok and cook the crab over high heat for about 3 minutes, or until it turns bright red. Add the garlic and green peppercorns and cook for a few seconds, then reduce the heat to medium and add the sauce. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. (If using cooked crab, just heat through for 2–3 minutes.) Remove the crab to a plate and set aside.
  6. In a bowl, combine the cornflour and 1 tablespoon cold water to make a smooth paste. Add to the sauce in the wok and stir while it boils and thickens. Return the crab to the wok, add the spring onion and the capsicum and toss to coat.
  7. To serve, arrange the crab on a large serving plate and serve hot with finger bowls and shell plates. White rice is a good foil for the sauce and the heat of the peppercorns.

Note

  • Although Kep crab traditionally uses blue swimmer crabs, for which the beach town is famous, it will be equally delicious using other crab varieties. Green peppercorns are sold, bottled in brine, in Asian grocery stores. Use them on the drupes, or stems, if possible.
Tags:
The Complete Asian Cookbook
Charmaine
Solomon
Asian
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