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Come out of your shell! Jack Stein’s Cornish chilli crab

Come out of your shell! Jack Stein’s Cornish chilli crab

It’s time to try something fresh, with these mouthwatering shellfish recipes from the king of seafood cookery, Rick Stein. 

Rick’s son Jack says, ‘In 1985, on a family trip to Australia when I was five, my love of seafood took off. 

‘On a stopover in Singapore we went to a night market and I had chilli crab for the first time. 

‘My father’s version uses brown crab, which is fuller-flavoured than the mud crabs in Singapore, and my recipe is similar, with a few tweaks.’

Rick Stein’s son Jack has made a few tweaks to the Cornish chilli crab, pictured, recipe

Serves 4


  • 2kg (4lb 8oz) boiled brown crab
  • 4tbsp groundnut or sunflower oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2.5cm fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 medium-hot, red Dutch chillies, finely chopped
  • 4tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1tsp Marmite
  • 2 spring onions cut into 5cm pieces and finely shredded lengthways
  • A handful of chopped coriander



Preparing your own crab takes a bit of time and effort and you’ll need to

invest in a sturdy pair of crab (or nut) crackers to break the shell.

  • Put the crab on its back, so that the claws and softer body section face upwards, then twist off the main claws, leaving the legs attached. 
  • Put your thumbs against the shell, close to the crab’s tail, and prise the body section out and away. The legs should still be attached to the body. 
  • Remove the stomach sac situated behind the crab’s mouth and pull away the feather-like gills (‘dead man’s fingers’) attached along the edges of the centre part; discard.
  • Using a teaspoon, scoop out the brown meat from inside the shell; reserve. 
  • Chop the body into quarters then cut the main claws in half at the joint. Crack the shells with a hammer or the blunt edge of a knife.
  • Heat the oil, garlic, ginger and chilli in a wok for 1 minute. Turn up the heat and quickly fry the crab meat, then add the ketchup, soy sauce, Marmite and 150ml water. 
  • Add the remaining crab in its shell and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and finish with spring onions and chopped coriander. 
  • Serve with lots of finger bowls and napkins, as this is a messy dish.

Rick Stein’s restaurants celebrate Summer of Shellfish until September. For more information visit 


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