Not a crustacean homage to a fine Pennsylvania town. Not a misspelled version of Singapore’s national dish, “Chili” Crab. Not a dish served with soft, spreadable cream cheese. No, Philly Crab is a new recipe that I’ve pulled together and a culinary dedication to my pal Phil Ventresca! Sorry Phil, Bostons’ a bit far to send a sample so you’ll just need to come over this way for a treat like no other.
Simply put, if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to prepare and thoroughly devour possibly the BEST crab ever…read on! Last night we had our pals Barb and Brett over for an impromptu seafood dinner along with a few bottles of cheap wine, an amazing German-style potato salad, spinach salad and grilled corn on the cob. The showpiece consisted of 4 Sri Lankan Crabs grilled on the Big Green Asian Egg.
The recipe and preparation is so incredibly simple it’s almost unreal. Philly Crab can also be prepared on a gas grill as well though I must admit, the smokey flavour that a hard wood charcoal grill provides adds something quite special to this crab.
4 live Sri Lankan crabs, a total of 2.8kg
270 grams of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 slices of unsalted butter (in addition to the above)
A good shaking of Old Bay
Here’s what to do
For the steeping sauce, combine all the ingredients above and in the same sequence as above (minus the crab) over medium heat. Once combined, put the sauce to one side and move onward to the crab.
Remember that these crabs were bought fresh from the market and promptly put into the freezer to help them drift into a lovely dream state – I only had them in there for about 50 minutes. Remove the crabs from the freezer and dispatch each of them as humanely as possible (a nice way of saying, help them meet their maker, but quickly) Now take a heavy and sharp clever and chop the crab in half, then chop off the claws where they connect to the body, then finally crack the claws with the back of the clever. This helps with removing the meat easily once the crab is cooked. Now rinse all the gunk off the crabs with cold water leaving all the meat but removing the mud, silt and guts.
At this point you can fire up your grill to medium heat – 400 degrees F will do just fine. While it heats up, take some heavy duty aluminium foil and put in your quartered crab. Add a chunk of butter in the centre and sprinkle a good portion of Old Bay onto the crab. Gently close the foil packet into a sort of pocket, leaving the top open just enough to pour your steeping sauce in. (It should look like a big silver clove of garlic.) Take your prepared four packets out to the grill, plonk them onto the grid and then add in four equal measures of the steeping sauce. (Best to do this over the grill to avoid spillage but be careful of the flare ups that the butter will cause!)
At this point all you need to do is close the dome of your grill and let it sit undisturbed for 20 minutes. That’s it.
After 20 minutes the crab will turn a beautiful shade of red and the aroma coming off the grill will send your taste buds into overdrive. Carefully remove each packet and simply dump the contents (especially the steeping sauce) into a big metal bowl. Do this with each packet and then cover the top with some foil. Take it out to the table and let the crab rest for about 5 minutes as you prepare the rest of the table.
When you and your guests are ready to chow down, simply remove the foil and dig right in. The meat is tender, moist and deliciously good. Honestly, the best crab I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of crab! So, thanks to Barb, Brett, Heather and Phil (for the inspiration) we had another major win with the Big Green Asian Egg!
Overall Heather Rating (unanimous I might add): 10/10