Grab a crab

What stops me from going totally vegetarian is my love of eggs and shellfish. That said, I can’t kill my food, so either I buy dead shellfish or do the hypocritical thing and let other people kill them i.e. eat in restaurants.

No problem with prawns which can be bought dead, but to avoid contamination crabs and lobsters need to be alive just before they are cooked. Result: I never buy crabs. Anything breathing that comes into my home will be given a name and allowed to live out its natural life. Imagine George and Daisy, the Sri Lankan crabs scuttling around the backyard, waving their pincers menacingly at our stalking dogs. Someone will get nipped, and it’s 3-1 in the crabs’ favour.

My friend Devagi Sanmugam recently posted a recipe for garlic-pepper crabs which got me drooling. Butter crab, chilli crab, baked crab, curry crab, fried soft-shell crabs….love ‘em all!

There is no kind way to kill anything. If you must have your crab and eat it, the old-fashioned method is as good as any – Asian mothers use a chopstick to skewer the crab through the tapered flap on the underside. Devagi tells me she simply pops the crab in the freezer and leaves it to die of hypothermia. The biting cold will probably put it to sleep, so maybe it’s less painful than being stabbed to death. For a quick kill, refer to

Top image:

Your mouth watering? Here is Devagi’s recipe – Unless it’s hanging on to my toe, nothing will induce me to kill a crab, so I will have to drool on.




Oil for deep frying

1 ½ kg mud crabs or crayfish, cleaned, washed and halved



100 g Q.B.B. Pure Ghee

2 green chillies, seeded and very finely sliced (optional)

10 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 cm ginger, finely chopped

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

2 teaspoons dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons black peppercorns, crushed coarsely

100 ml chicken stock or water


  1. Heat oil until very hot (preferably in a wok) and then deep fry the crabs or crayfish until the shell changes colour.
  2. Drain and keep aside.
  3. Melt the Q.B.B. Pure Ghee in a wok. Add in the chilli, garlic and ginger and sauté till aromatic – about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the oyster sauce, both soya sauces and sugar.
  5. Simmer for a few seconds and then add the black pepper.
  6. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens and then add the crabs or crayfish.
  7. Keep stirring until the crabs are well coated with the sauce and cook for another couple of minutes.
  8. Serve hot.

1 thought on “Grab a crab

  1. Yes, I remember you told me this story before – about how Devagi would leave crab to die in the freezer ‘cos it’s less painful. Hopefully! – WaiKit

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