Mud Crab

Scylla serrata (Giant Mud Crab)
Scylla olivacea (Orange Mud Crab)

Other names: Black crab, green crab, mangrove crab, muddie, muddy, green crab (Giant); brown mud crab (Orange).

Family: Portunidae (swimming crabs).

Description:

Available wild-caught (though research into aquaculture is ongoing), these are marine and estuarine coastal dwellers that can tolerate low salinity for extended periods, preferring shallow water with a muddy bottom in mangroves, sheltered estuaries and tidal flats (though females with eggs are often found well offshore). Found around most of the Australian coast from NSW north around to Shark Bay, WA; most of the commercial catch is from Queensland and NT, with some also from NSW. Caught in pots, drop nets and dillies. Giant Mud Crab is far more common in Australia than Orange Mud Crab.

Season: Available year round with peaks from January to April in Queensland and NSW and from May to August in NT.

Size and Weight: Commonly about 17cm in carapace width and 500g-1kg, but can grow to 28cm and 3kg. Size restrictions vary from state to state.

Price: High priced.

Relations:

Blue Swimmer Crab, Coral Crab, Sand Crab, Velvet Crab.

To Buy:

They can survive well out of water for days and are mostly sold live, but are also available cooked. It is best not to buy dead uncooked Mud Crabs as it is difficult to determine their quality. Crabs should feel heavy for their size and have their legs and claws intact. Look for firm, intact shells, without any discolouration, particularly at joints, and a pleasant fresh sea smell. If possible, give them a gentle shake to ensure there's no sound of sloshing water. Females with eggs are protected in all states, and in Queensland catching any female Mud Crabs is prohibited.

To Store:

Live Crabs should be consumed as soon as possible after purchase. Place in a container, cover with damp paper or cloth and keep in a cool part of the house for up to 3 days, keeping the covering damp. Once cooked, wrap in plastic wrap or foil and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months below -18ºC. Picked crabmeat can be stored in the same way.

To Cook:

The shell is a dull dark blue-green to mottled brown when uncooked; like all crustaceans, they turn orange when cooked. Average yield is 25% (from claws and body, largely from front claws). The flesh is translucent when raw and white to off-white when cooked, it has a medium-strong, sweet flavour, low oiliness and is moist and flaky. Body meat has a medium texture, while claw meat is firmer. Some people enjoy the stronger-tasting ‘mustard’ or brown meat (internal organs) in the body. The most humane, and easiest, method of killing any crustacean is to chill it in the freezer for about 45 minutes until it becomes insensible (but not long enough to freeze it). Once chilled, it should be killed promptly by splitting in half or dropping into rapidly boiling water. See www.rspca.org.au for more details.

Cooking Methods:

Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, stir-fry (it’s best to partially cook by steaming, boiling or poaching before pan- or stir-frying). Do not recook cooked Crabs, pick the meat and use it in salads, sandwiches, as a garnish for soups, or in dishes where it is just gently warmed, such as pasta, risotto, Crab cakes and omelettes. The large front claws can be battered or crumbed (with or without stuffing) and deep-fried.

Goes well with:

Anchovies, black pepper, butter, chervil, chilli, coconut, coriander, cream, fish sauce, dill, garlic, ginger, lemon, lemongrass, lime, mayonnaise, nutmeg, onion, parsley, soy sauce, tarragon, tomatoes, turmeric.

Alternatives:

Blue Swimmer Crab, Marron, Redclaw, Rocklobsters, Spanner Crab, Yabby.

Imports:

Other species of Crab are imported frozen as meat, claws and legs.

Recipes:

Spicy Stir-fried Mud Crab > 
Crab & Asparagus Soup > 
Crab & Celeriac Remoulade > 
Crab & Corn Frittata >
Crab & Green Mango Salad > 
Crab & Herb Sandwiches >
Crab Omelette with Avocado Salsa >
Crab Salad with Witlof & Snow Peas >
Partan Bree (Scottish Crab Soup) >
Seafood Gumbo > 
Spaghetti with Crab, Lime & Chilli >
Steamed Blue Swimmer Crabs with Asian Citrus Dressing >
Stir-Fried Blue Swimmer Crabs with Tamarind & Coconut >