We have caught many blue swimmer crabs in our time. At times in South Australia, they are abundant. Over the summer months, you see many people catching them in crab pots or raking for them waist deep in water.
The sweet meat of the blue swimmer crab is delicious and chilli crab is one of my favourite recipes to make with them! This is how I make my chilli crab and it has been a hit with many people. Be warned it is messy to eat… best not to worry about the mess and dig in though, because it will disappear fast!
1kg raw Blue swimmers
2 Tbs peanut oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp ginger, grated
2 red chillies, seeded and sliced
2 Tbs hoisin sauce
½ cup tomato sauce
¼ cup sweet chilli sauce
1 Tbs fish sauce
¼ cup of water
¼ tsp sesame oil
4 spring onions, sliced
½ cup water
Coriander sprigs to garnish
Goolwa cockles otherwise known as pipis are bivalve molluscs, similar in their two shelled structure to a clam, or mussel. A popular place to gather pipis is Goolwa Beach in South Australia. They are not only, and exclusively, at this beach, but on a nice summer day, Goolwa beach will often be busy with swimmers, surfers and people gathering cockles. Some people use them as bait but many others are now cooking them and making delicious meals of steamed cockles in white wine and garlic, rich marinara sauces or, like me, putting them in a creamy seafood chowder for that little touch of something different.
We are currently visiting family and friends in Adelaide, South Australia, and really, what is more Australian, more South Australian and more Goolwanian than a day at the beach gathering cockles…. not much. Dwayne, myself and two of our boys were joined by friend’s Sarah and Phil May, and their children plus other friends and family.
While I found it difficult to get in the cold water like the rest of them, surfing and boogie boarding, I did manage to get in deep enough to start hunting for cockles. Collecting the cockles is really very simple. You simply dig your feet into the sand and as the water washes around your feet and the wave ebbs, the sand is washed away and your feet sink deeper into the sand. When you feel the cockles beneath your feet and bend down to scoop them up. Put the cockles into a bucket or esky (i.e. chilly bin, cooler, icebox). The cockles then need to be encouraged to purge or spit out all their sand. The purging occurs when the cockles are kept in the bucket or an esky with fresh clean seawater for at least 24 hours. This is easy if you are near a beach and can replenish and freshen the seawater regularly.
So once my cockles were purged I set about making a creamy seafood chowder which I then served in a toasted bread roll bowl. Yummo!
This is what you will need…
2 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 large leek, finely sliced
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup plain flour
4 cups fish stock
500g white fish, chopped into cubes
400g prawns, peeled
1kg Goolwa cockles
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
Salt and cracked black pepper
4-6 bread rolls
And this is what I did…
To make a bread roll serving bowl I sliced the top off each bread roll and set it aside to use as the lid. Then I dug out the inner soft bread and baked the rolls, and their lids, in a moderate oven until they are hard & crispy (about 10-15 minutes).
For the chowder…
I heated the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Added the bacon and cooked over low heat for about 5 minutes. I then added onion, carrot, celery, potato and cooked for 5 minutes or until softened (do not brown).
Next, I added the flour and cooked for one minute. Then I gradually added the fish stock and cooked while stirring for about five minutes or until mixture boiled and thickened. I let it simmer over low heat for another five minutes uncovered while I stirred occasionally.
I then added the seafood and simmered again while stirring occasionally. I added the cream and simmered for another 5 minutes without letting it boil. I then seasoned with salt and cracked pepper and tossed in a handful of chopped parsley.
I ladled the soup between the toasted rolls and served immediately.
Note: I have made this recipe with fish and lobster that we caught while camping at Canunda National Park, and I have used fish, scallops and squid that we caught at Stansbury while anchored there. At home, I have used a marinara mix or a mix of prawns, fish, scallops and mussels. Any mix of seafood is great in this chowder.
We made this chilli crab while anchoredoff a small island in Indonesia called Lapan. We had been in Indonesian waters for three days, and had yet to find a village with a restaurant/Warung. Having a craving for something a little spicy we cooked up the last of our crabs (caught in Darwin) and enjoyed this chilli crab for lunch before we jumped in the very inviting water for a snorkel.
This is is what I did…
To a small bowl I added and set aside;
2 Tbs of Hoisin sauce
½ cup tomato sauce
¼ cup Sweet Chilli Sauce
1 Tbs Fish sauce
¼ cup water
¼ tsp sesame oil.
Dwayne, in the meantime, cleaned and cut the crab into segments, cracking the claws to allow the flavour to enter and infuse the crab. I heated a couple of tablespoons of oil in a pot (I was currently wok-less) and sautéed three finely chopped garlic cloves and two teaspoons of grated ginger for about thirty seconds, then I added the crab pieces and stir-fried for around 3-4 minutes.
I added the sauce and tossed to cover all the crab, heating it until it was just beginning to boil, then I reduced the heat to simmer, and covered until cooked (around 7 minutes). I added some chilli flakes (would have used sliced chilli, and sauted with garlic and ginger if I had any) and served with steamed basmati rice. Note: I would have used sliced chilli, and sauted it with the garlic and ginger if I’d had any at the time.
This is another little creation I made while anchored in Darwin Harbour. It was after I got back from my trip to Adelaide. While in Adelaide working my butt off, painting etc, Dwayne was in Darwin, fishing, crabbing and going to the races….. anyhow he caught a couple of crabs and knew better than to eat them while I was away.
I’ve been wanting a crab salad ever since we hit mud crab territory but had, as yet, had little luck. With the heat in Darwin during the ‘build-up’ making cooking unpleasant, I decided to use one of the cooked mud crabs for this simple salad.
I used a food stack mould and layered it with a slice of honeydew and rockmelon, shredded lettuce and then a layer of crab and diced cucumber. I topped the salad with a dressing I made with lime juice, walnut oil, mirin, sweet chilli and sesame oil.
Delicious and very refreshing in the humidity.
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I made this risotto while we were anchored in Darwin Harbour awaiting our visa and paperwork to set sail for Indonesia. The crayfish was caught on our way to Darwin as we cruised the Great Barrier Reef.
I have never made a risotto before, so I googled to get some ideas. In the end I combined some of my favourite flavours to make the risotto I had envisioned. Yay!
This is what I did… I melted butter in a large pan and sautéed finely chopped onion and garlic, diced chorizo and sliced chilli until the onion had softened.
Next I added the rice and cooked it for approximately four minutes “toasting it”. This step apparently determines the final texture of the risotto. It heats the outside of the rice quickly thus preventing it from breaking and seals in the starch.
I then added a cup of white wine. On medium heat I cooked it until all the liqud was nearly absorbed. I then began the task of adding 1/4 of a cup of hot fish stock at a time, waiting for each to be absorbed before adding more, all the while stirring. When the rice was nearly done (a taste test will tell you) I added sliced mushroom, heaps of tarragon and the lobster.
Another yummy oyster feed made with oysters plucked from the rocks in QLD.
Bloody Mary Oyster Shots
I popped a fresh oyster into each shot glass and added about half a shot of vodka to each glass. Then I added tomato juice and a couple of dashes of tabasco sauce.
Salt and Pepper Oysters with a Tomato Caper Salsa
For the salsa
I mixed finely chopped tomato and capers and refrigerated it until needed.
For the oysters
I mixed a small amount of cornflour with freshly ground salt and black pepper. I lightly coated the oysters and deep fried them for 1 – 2 minutes.
I put the oysters in ceramic Chinese soup spoons and topped each oyster with the salsa.
Grilled Oysters with Mirin, Soy and Chilli
For the mirin and soy dressing
I mixed one tablespoon of mirin with one tablespoon of soy.
To cook and serve
I put an oyster in each shell (I use odd shells I have collected) and added a bit of the dressing and topped each oyster with a couple of slices of chilli. Then I grilled the oysters for 1 – 2 minutes.
This pasta meal was another simple way we enjoyed the marlin we had ample supply of.
While the fettuccini was cooking, I simply sautéed baby capers, finely diced capsicum and garlic in olive oil. After a few minutes I added halved cherry tomatoes and the diced marlin and cooked for a further few minutes until the fish was cooked through but not over done.
To serveI topped the fettuccine with the marlin and tomato, garnished with sliced spring onions and drizzled with a little olive oil. Simple and delicious.
This meal was made with a fresh catch while we were anchored at Hope Island, on the Great Barrier Reef. It was a few days out of Cairns and we still had some fresh vegetables from our shopping trip that we needed to use. The green beans were on their last days so, as it often happens on a boat, what we decided to cook for dinner was determined by the veg we had and what needed to be eaten first.
Dwayne caught, cleaned and cut the spanish mackerel into cutlets. He then barbequed the cutlets while I made a salsa.
For the salsa I diced tomato, kalamata olives, red onion, anchovy, chilli, capers and added a little olive oil.
The beans, which were begging to be cooked, were blanched in boiling water for a minute or two and set aside. I sautéed a little garlic in butter and tossed the beans and some chopped pistachio nuts through it.
We enjoyed a delicious meal of BBQ mackerel topped with the salsa and served with the beans on the side. We love mackerel… don’t think we’ll ever get sick of it!
While anchored in Darwin Harbour, with supermarkets nearby, I decided to do a romantic dinner for Dwayne. For an entree, I made crayfish salad using a crayfish we caught in the Great Barrier Reef. It is very simple but looks great!
This is what I did…
I made a salad dressing by mixing
3 Tbs of coconut cream
2 Tbs lime juice
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
I refrigerated until I was ready to use it.
I prepared a small packet of vermicelli noodles by soaking them in boiling water. I drained them well and mixed some of the salad dressing through them. I refrigerated the noodles until I was ready to make my salad stacks.
I shredded carrot, lettuce and snow peas, then chopped some coriander and sliced some tomato.
I stacked the vegetables firmly into a mould, beginning with the noodles and topping it off with the tomato and coriander.
I removed the stack mould.
I then topped the salad with crayfish and salad dressing. Voila! Simple, colourful and delicious.
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