3 clove garlic, crushed and peeled
3 shallot, thinly sliced
1 crab paste
4 oz Sambal Belacan (see recipe below)
Make the Sambal Belacan: Use a mortar and pestle to pound the toasted belacan, chilies, and garlic to a coarse paste, pounding each ingredient thoroughly before adding the next. Add lime juice to taste and season with salt to brighten the flavors. Store the sambal, covered, in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature and freshen it with more lime juice before you use it.
Make the Garlic-Ginger Paste: Use a mortar and pestle to pound the ginger, garlic, shallots, and crab paste to a paste, pounding each ingredient thoroughly before adding the next. Then add the sambal belacan, pound again, and set the mixture aside.
Make the Sriracha Liquid: In a mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients, from the sriracha through the tomato paste.
Cook the Crabs: Bring a large stockpot of salty water to a boil. Rinse the crabs well (they should be lively) under cold running water. Drop the crabs into the pot and cook for exactly 5 minutes, starting the timer the moment the water returns to a boil. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the crabs to a rack to cool.
When they’re cool enough to handle, put them on a cutting board. Using your thumb and forefinger, pull off the flap on the underside of each crab (pluck off any little gill bits too) and discard them. Then use a large chef’s knife to cut each body in half. Rinse the bodies under running water as you remove and discard the entrails. Use the back of of your knife blade (the dull side) to gently crack the claws. Transfer them to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.
Finish the Dish: Heat the peanut oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic-ginger paste and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add the sriracha liquid and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir to let some of the heat dissipate. Wait another 30 seconds or so and add the butter, piece by piece, stirring constantly. When all the butter has been added, slowly drizzle the well- beaten egg into the pan, whisking constantly to incorporate smoothly. The chili sauce should be thick but pourable, like gravy.
Add the crabs to the chili sauce and toss them so that they’re well coated.
Put two crab halves in each of four serving bowls. Pour some of the steaming hot chili sauce (enough to coat the crabs generously) into each bowl. Sprinkle each with a good handful of the cilantro leaves. Serve with toast triangles to soak up the sauce you leave behind after scarfing up the crabs.
Reprinted with permission from Eat with Your Hands by Zakary Pelaccio, 2012. Published by Ecco, an imprint of Harper Collins.
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp tomato puree
3 Tbsp ketchup
3 Tbsp dark sesame oil
2 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp live Dungeness crab
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg, well beaten
8 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
1 slice thick-cut white bread, preferably from a Pullman loaf, toasted and halved diagonally
4 long red chili, such as Anaheim or Hungarian Wax, stemmed
5 fresh red Thai bird chili, stemmed
1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled
juice of 1 to 3 limes