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Wok Tossed Mud Crab (cua xào sate)

Father’s day is often an occassion for celebration for most families. From experience we’ve learnt that never ever go out on a celebratory day, every restaurant is bound to be packed and most restauranteurs rushing to serve you your meal, so they can serve more patrons. Most often, food served on such a busy night is bound to be sub-standard to the restaurant’s usual fare, e.g. less servings, flavour’s just not right, over cooked/under cooked, and the list goes on.

left to right: onion, garlic & shallots, sate, prepping crabs, crab shell (keep the goodies), crab meat, dusting the crab.

This year is a double whammy, as father’s day falls on the same day as Moon Festival celebrations, all the more reason to steer away from chinese restaurant. Father’s day this year is a little different for me, since getting engaged to Howard, I really do feel as if I have two Dads. To mark this special day, I’ve decided to cook a dish that has sat on my “to try” list for way too long, Luke Nguyen’s Cua Xao Sate (wok tossed mud crab).

I have never purchased crabs on my own, often relying on mum’s intuition to pick the freshest/meatiest ones. This time, with mum’s guidance I did my own dirty work, choosing four good crabs.

So how do you identify the good crabs from the bad ones?

  • Most importantly, the crabs must still be moving.
  • The crab should not have any fishy or “off” smell to it
  • Lift up the crab, it must feel quite solid, this indicates that the crab is meaty.

Those were mum’s tips, however if you have any other tips, feel free to share.

left to right: Ghetto stove, frying the crab in batches, fried for 3 mins, first batch done

I found this recipe to be really simple to follow, made better by the fact that I had most of the ingredients at home. Prior to making this dish, I noticed that someone commented on the SBS website that they were not too keen on wasting precious crab meat on the sate. Crab meat can be purchased by the tin at any Asian grocery store, they usually retail for $4 per tin. It’s very convenient and less time-consuming, perfect for the sate recipe.

Warning, HUGE statement ahead. This style of stir frying the crab is the best that I have ever had, narrowly beating the saucy chilli crabs.

What’s there not to like about the Cua Xao Sate? The spicy and salty sate sauce works so well with the sweet crab meat, the crisp pieces from the sate sauce was good to just have with steamed rice alone.If you like crabs and anything spicy, give this recipe a go. The recipe may look daunting at first, but it’s actually quite easy once you get the sate over and done with. Two days on and I’m still thinking about the Cua xao sate.

So, what did you make for your dad this fathers day?

Luke Nguyen’s Wok Tossed Mud Crab (Cua xao sate)

Sate sauce recipe

  • 200gm crab meat
  • 100 g dried shrimp. Soaked in 1 cup water for 20 minutes & drained
  • 25g dried chilli flakes
  • 100ml chilli oil
  • 10 spring onions sliced (white part only)
  • 1/2 bulb garlic minced
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 500ml vegetable oil


  1. Pour vegetable oil in a wok and bring to medium heat, fry the garlic and spring onion till fragrant.
  2. Now add crab meat, shrimps, sugar, oyster sauce, salt and fish sauce. Stir then reduce heat to a low simmer for 30 minutes stirring every 5 minutes.
  3. Lastly add chilli oil, stir and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

This sauce may seem tedious, however it really is worth the wait. It is so delicious on its own, I can imagine how awesome it would be to add a couple of tablespoon of this sate to fried rice or fried noodles.

Stir fried mud crab

  • 2 live crabs (we had four, so doubled all the ingredients)
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • potato starch for dusting
  • 3 red asian shallots, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 2 spring onion, cut in to 5cm lengths
  • 2 red onion, diagonally sliced
  • 4 tbsp sate sauce


Tip: Your work must be very hot

  1. Prior to stir frying, place the crabs in the freezer to kill them humanely.
  2. Remove the upper shell of the crab, pick off the gills, which look like little fingers, and discard them. Clean the crab under running water and drain. Place the crab on its stomach and chop the crab in half with a heavy cleaver.
  3. Now chop each half into 4 pieces, chopping each piece after each leg. With the back of the cleaver gently crack each claw — this makes it easier to extract the meat.
  4. Heat the oil in a wok to 200°C (400°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 5 seconds. Dust the crab pieces with potato starch, shaking off the excess.
  5. Deep-fry the crab in batches for 3 minutes, turning over once, until golden brown. Remove from the wok and drain on kitchen paper. Remove the oil, reserving 2 tablespoons, and clean the wok.
  6. Heat the reserved oil in the wok, then add the shallots and garlic and fry until fragrant. Now add the sate sauce and stir for 1 minute. Add the crab and spring onions and toss, making sure to coat the crab well. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chilli.


  1. Wow, this looks stunning! Crab is something I definitely don’t eat often enough. Totally going to try this recipe :)

  2. crazy buddy says

    OMG I love tese crabs honestly! Looks delicious and really craving for crabs right now and its make me hungry.

  3. OMFG looks amazing. Seriously drooling here! You know what I say “You’re not Asian if you don’t like crab!”. Can’t wait to try this! Congratulations on the engagement!

  4. Made this a while ago!
    (Was a little confused when to add the “2 red onions” but I winged it and it turned out freakin’ unbelievable!)

    Thanks so much for the great recipe! Really appreciate it! It was so great!

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