Crab Poached in Beer with Lemongrass & Chilli
We first discovered this dish in the popular coastal town of Nha Trang. The simple combination of seafood, aromatics and beer makes for a wonderfully relaxed meal for a hot day on the beach.
2 blue swimmer or sand crabs
2 long red chillies, cut into thin rings
2 lemongrass stems, white part only, chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves, cut into very thin strips
For the lime and chilli dipping salt
½ tsp sea salt
1 kaffir lime leaf, sliced into thin strips (optional)
2-3 thin red chilli rings (instead of chilli rings, you can use some freshly ground black pepper)
¼ small lime, cut into a wedge
To make the dipping salt, place a little mound of the salt in a dipping bowl. Next to the salt place the lime leaf, if using, and the chilli, and beside that the lime wedge. Just before serving, squeeze the lime juice into the centre of the dipping bowl and stir with a chopstick to incorporate the flavours.
Prepare the crabs by removing the top shell, then rinse to remove the gills. Cut each crab into four pieces with a cleaver.
Pour the beer into a large saucepan and add the chilli and lemongrass. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the crab and simmer for 4-5 minutes. When the shells are a deep red colour, remove the crab pieces, using a slotted spoon, and place on a platter.
Add the lime leaves to the liquid, then pour this over the crab pieces. Serve with the dipping salt.
Extracted from Made in Vietnam by Tracey Lister and Andreas Pohl (Hardie Grant, approx €17). Photography © Michael Fountoulakis