Prepare the mud crabs: remove the base flap, remove the head and clear out the cavity. Remove the gills on both sides. Wash thoroughly. Cut the crabs in half down the middle, then divide into four parts. Using the back of a knife, crack the crab legs and claws open to allow flavours to infuse while cooking.
Clean and prepare all seafood ingredients and set aside.
Spice paste: in a food processor, combine red onions, ginger, chillies, garlic, lemongrass, fish sauce and soy sauce – blitz until smooth. Reserve 1 tablespoon.
Heat oil in a pot or large wok over medium heat. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the spice paste for the seafood, add remainder to the pot/wok and fry for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring until fragrant.
Add the prepared mud crabs, stir to combine and to coat the crab. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the crab starts to change colour.
Add crushed tomatoes, beef stock, rice wine vinegar, sweet chilli sauce and palm sugar, stir until fully combined. Add the black mussels, pop on a lid and cook for a further 15 minutes.
Pan fry the remaining seafood in a pan with a little oil and reserved tablespoon of spice paste.
Remove crabs from the pot/wok and place aside. Add butter, green shallot (spring onion) and cornstarch to the sauce, stir to combine. Cook until the sauce starts to thicken, then add all seafood and combine well.
Garnish with coriander, sesame seeds and chilli. Enjoy it on its own, over steamed rice or with toasted sourdough.
Recipe courtesy of Crusoe's on the lake , for the Culinary Cruising feature in Vol 38.2 April-May 2023 Club Marine Magazine.
Visit Lake Mac Holiday Parks Belmont for details about Lake Macquarie Holiday Parks.