Mud crab risotto recipe

Ormeggio at The Spit, Sydney, is a hatted Italian restaurant with a refined seafood menu that includes this exquisite mud crab risotto.

If you find yourself cruising around Sydney Harbour, be sure to visit d’Albora Marina The Spit and book a table at Ormeggio, a sophisticated hatted Italian restaurant with waterfront views. Its sublime seafood menu is only rivalled by the dessert options, with the refined selection of dishes taking your tastebuds on a tour of the Italian coastline.

While dishes are offered ‘by the piece’, guests are encouraged to try from the ‘to share’ choices and enjoy dining with friends and family. Click here to view the menus.

Serves 2 as an entrée, 1 as main dish

  • 1 live mud crab, around 500g
  • 1 ruby grapefruit, peeled, 1cm cubes
  • ¼ bunch chives
  • 2 finger limes
  • Ice, to chill the cooked crab

Prawn butter & milk protein powder

  • 800g prawn heads
  • 800g unsalted butter
  • 500g skim-milk powder


  • 400ml best-quality seafood stock*
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 25g extra virgin olive oil
  • 50ml white wine
  • 80g carnaroli rice
  • 15g unsalted butter
  • 25g Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 1½ tbsp (30g) extra virgin olive oil

*Note: Ormeggio uses house-made crab and citrus stock; substitute with best-quality seafood stock. Heat stock, add 6 roasted cardamom pods and a strip of peel from ½ orange. Infuse for 30 minutes, strain through a fine sieve.

Prawn butter: combine prawn heads and butter in a Thermomix, blend at 90ºC at maximum speed for 5 minutes. Press through a fine sieve. Filter again through a coffee filter.

Milk protein powder: heat 750g prawn butter in a medium pot. When it starts to boil, add the skim-milk powder and turn the heat to medium-high. Stir continuously with a whisk until the protein has a nice light-brown colour. Strain through a fine sieve over a bowl. Transfer the protein to a dehydrator tray with a damp cloth, dry overnight.

Mud crab: plunge the live mud crab into a large bucket of heavily iced water for 15 minutes.

Put the crab directly into boiling salted water, reduce to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes. Transfer the crab onto a steel tray, refrigerate for 2 hours.

Once crab is chilled, remove claws and legs. Crack the main shell open and remove the body meat – discard the brown parts. Crack the claws and legs, remove the meat, add it to the body meat and finely shred it all with your fingers.

Risotto: warm 400ml stock in a pot.

In a heavy-based saucepan, melt 25g butter with the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat.

Add rice and a pinch of salt, cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly until very hot but not coloured – it should start to smell toasty.

Add the wine, stir until absorbed. Add enough stock to just cover the rice and cook for 8 minutes, adding more stock a ladle at a time as each one is absorbed, shaking the pan rather than stirring.

Add another ladle of stock and stir constantly for 7 to 9 minutes until rice is al dente, adding stock as needed.

Remove the pan from the heat, cover and set aside for 1 minute. Add 15g unsalted butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano and 1½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Using a wooden spoon and shaking the pan, beat to create a creamy consistency, adding a little more warm stock if necessary.

Plate the risotto in the mud crab’s shell. Place some grapefruit cubes on top, cover with the mud crab meat and finish with the caramelised milk protein, chives and finger lime pearls.

Recipe courtesy of Ormeggio at The Spit, Sydney, for the Culinary Cruising feature in Vol 38.3 June-July 2023 Club Marine Magazine.

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