Vietnamese Tamarind Crabs
Vietnamese tamarind crabs pack a flavor punch with every morsel of sweet crab meat imbued with tang from the tamarind, heat from the bird’s eye chili, and umani from the fish sauce.
Recipe By: Vy Tran of Beyond Sweet and Savory
Featured Products: Premier™ Hard-Anodized Nonstick 13-Inch Flat Wok
- 4 pounds live rock crabs
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 4 shallots, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 tbsp peppercorns
- 1 cup tamarind sauce
- 4 bird’s eye chilis, sliced and extra for serving
- ¼ cup basil leaves
- ¼ cup cilantro
- 1 cup tamarind water
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- ¼ cup sugar
- 4 ounces tamarind paste
- 1 cup boiling water
- To make the tamarind water, soak the tamarind paste in boiling water for 5 minutes breaking up any chunks with a spoon. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Pass the mixture through a sieve to get the tamarind water.
- To make the tamarind sauce, in a bowl whisk together tamarind water, fish sauce, and sugar until well combined.
- To prepare the crabs for steaming, freeze the crabs for 1 hour to immobilize them.
- Put the crabs in a large pot. Add about an inch of water. Close the lid and steam them for 8-10 minutes. Remove the crabs from the pot with tongs. Give them a rinse under cool water to clean all the debris off.
- With the heat turned up to high, in a large wok, add the oil, garlic, scallions, and shallots. Saute over medium heat for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Decrease the heat to medium-high. Add the peppercorns and crabs and toss for 2 minutes.
- Pour the tamarind sauce over the crabs and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Add 2 tbsps basil leaves and chilis and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Remove the crabs and transfer them to a serving plate.
- Let the sauce cook on high heat for 10 minutes until it reduces and becomes thicker.
- Pour the sauce over the crabs. Garnish with more basil, chili, and cilantro and serve immediately.