Drunken crabs

Drunken crabs

Ben's BBQ Bible
Billy Law

When I was a first-year apprentice I worked what we called the backbench, doing the prep for the section chef de parties. Along with a million other tasks, I would spend the services prepping live crabs, soaking them in beer or vodka and setting them up for the chef to cook. You had to stay ahead of the chef, otherwise you would get stuff thrown at you. It wasn’t long before I was the section chef doing exactly the same thing, throwing things at the apprentice if he didn’t keep ahead! You can cook this dish on a hotplate or in a wok balanced on coals, and it’s great served with crusty bread spread with loads of butter.


Quantity Ingredient
4 large blue swimmer crabs or sand crabs, cleaned and halved, claws cracked
375ml can beer
or 100ml vodka
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 hot red chillies
2 cups chopped spring onions, the white and green parts chopped separately
2 tablespoons olive oil
400 g can chopped roma tomatoes, drained
1 cup chopped coriander leaves
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place the cleaned crabs in a bowl with the beer or vodka and leave them to steep for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat your barbecue hotplate to a high heat. Splash some beer onto the hotplate or wok to check the heat; the beer should evaporate quickly, but let it heat up for a further 5 minutes just to make sure.
  3. Combine the garlic, chillies and white spring onions in a large bowl, together with the steeped crabs.
  4. Pour the olive oil on the hotplate or wok, then add the crabs and pour over the chopped tomatoes. Place a bowl or the lid of the wok over the crabs, then pour the beer or vodka marinade around the edge of the bowl so the liquid seeps underneath and steams them. Allow to steam for 5 minutes. Remove the cover to check how they’re going by breaking a section of crab. When the meat is white, toss through the remaining green tops of the spring onions and the coriander.
  5. Check the seasoning and remove to a serving plate.
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