Category Archives: Crabbing

A few more crabs means we poor pensioners can eat again!

Crab, lettuce, garlic aioli roll

Crab, lettuce, garlic aioli roll

Wednesday, after an amazing lunch of crab roll with garlic aioli and lettuce, and full of hope after the day before, we headed to Monkey Mia to crab once again. Our neighbour and his son took their big boat out too.

We put the boats in at 2.30 and headed back to to the boat ramp at 4.30. They caught (and threw back) 3 undersized crabs, we brought home 6 good sized ones, threw back 3 just size ones and heaps of females (tiny through to size). I reckon yesterday’s big boys knew the girls were coming!

Dinner last night was roast veggies (pumpkin and sweet potato bought back in Carnarvon and still going strong) with a couple of sausages thrown in on top, peas and gravy. It was good!

Lunch today, we were forced to have another crab sandwich. It’s a terrible, hard life we lead.

Afternoon of the giants

Just one of eleven

Just one of eleven

Sunday, we went out after lunch to Fowlers Camp to fish. It was windy and choppy for the 4 or so kilometres across the bay, but once we got beyond Eagle Bluff and into more open water it flattened right out. We caught around 40 pink snapper, with about 10 of those over 40cm but under that magic figure of 50cm. Russ eventually caught us one fish to take home. We ate him last night as crumbed fish with creamy curry sauce-one of our favourite sauces for fish and chips. When Russ cleaned him, he had two plastic lures in his gut, with no sign of them breaking down. Another smaller snapper we brought in threw up his bait then a plastic on the deck. I wonder just how good they actually are for fish if they can’t digest them?!
Crumbed fish with creamy curry sauce

Crumbed fish with creamy curry sauce

Yesterday (Monday) as the weather was basically crap we stayed in doors and the only energetic thing I did was to make fish stock.

Today after lunch, Russ reckoned we should go out to Monkey Mia and crab. We put our nets in at 2pm and pulled them out at 4pm and came home with 11 really good sized crabs. So good in fact, we let two size crabs go because they looked so tiny against our others.

When we first put the boat in, I thought we were crazy, it was windy and choppy and I knew who’d end up the coldest and wettest!. Anyhow, it settled down quite quickly and we had a pleasant couple of hours. As we drove the 27ks home, I was running all sorts of ideas through my head for our lovely catch. In the end, I decided on spaghetti with a tomato, chilli, crab sauce for dinner tonight, 2 big fat crab sandwiches for lunch tomorrow, and a couple of packets of picked meat for the freezer. We vacuum seal them and they become crab cakes, dip, pizza, bruschetta etc down the track. Much better than the little tubs or cans of crab you buy in a supermarket!

Spaghetti with Tomato, Chilli and Crab Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 chillis (heat is up to you, I used Thai Birdseye)
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 440g can whole tomatoes, chopped (I hate pre chopped canned tomatoes)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I’m heavy handed with both)
  • zest of a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • pasta water-enough to loosen the sauce up
  • cooked spaghetti or pasta (I like really thin spag with sauces like this)
  • cooked crab meat (I had 2 big ones for the two of us)
  • Spaghetti with tomato, chilli and crab sauce

    Spaghetti with tomato, chilli and crab sauce

Method

  1. Heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook a few minutes or until softened. Add the chilli and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes more.
  2. Add the white wine and cook until it’s reduced, then tip in the can of tomatoes and chop (I do this with kitchen scissors) Season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Allow to cook down until the tomatoes are well softened and the mix has reduced. Add in a half cup or so of pasta water to loosen the sauce back up and give it a starchy “creaminess”.
  4. Stir through the zest,lemon juice and parsley, then toss through the cooked pasta.
  5. Finally add the cooked crab, toss lightly again and serve.
  6. Along with a final slug of olive oil, I held back a bit of parsley, zest and claw meat to garnish the dish.

Singapore Black Pepper Crab

Crabs on the platter

Crabs on the platter

Yesterday a late, quick trip over to Monkey Mia netted us (literally) 10 crabs. It was slow going initially with the first few, while over legal size, not big enough for my planned Singapore Black Pepper Crab. After two hours crabbing, with the sun starting to drop in the sky, we headed home with 6 smaller ones and those 4 precious larger crabs-my plan was saved!

Turning them upside down sends them to sleep

Turning them upside down sends them to sleep

It was beautiful out there. The water was oily making it easy to see the dolphins out hunting, and we saw a huge (bigger than I’ve ever seen) flock of cormorants fishing amongst them. A couple of sour notes though-2 days earlier, we’d seen a hire kayak left anchored out where we crab, while the paddlers went back to shore in a tinny, then returned for the kayak. It (the kayak) had been tied to something with a bottle marking the spot. It was still there yesterday so we retrieved it. A plastic bottle tied by super strong fishing line was tied to a star picket-imagine if you got all that around your propeller !! Not long after that we picked up an empty stubby floating by-take your own rubbish home!

The recipe I made tonight is from a cookbook called Spice. I reckon we had about 1.4kg crabs but I prepared all the sauce so we could make bigger messes of ourselves and have some over rice!

Singapore Black Pepper Crab

  • 3 tablespoons ketjap manis
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 kg raw blue swimmer crabs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 -2 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
Crabs in the wok

Crabs in the wok

Method

  1. Put ketjap manis, oyster sauce, sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl, stir, then set aside.
  2. Pull back the apron of each crab, remove top shell, then intestines and feathery gills. Rinse quickly.
  3. Cut each crab into quarters and crack the legs gently (I use a meat mallet) so the flavours can enter.
  4. Heat the oil in a very large wok over high heat; add the crab pieces and stir fry in batches until the shell is bright orange and the meat almost cooked (about 5 minutes). Remove and repeat until all is cooked.
  5. Add the butter, ginger, garlic, chilli, black and white peppers and coriander to the wok; stir fry 30 seconds.
  6. Add the sauce mixture and stir; bring to the boil, then simmer 2 minutes.
  7. Return the crab to the wok and toss to coat in the sauce.
  8. Cook a further 2-3 minutes to finish cooking the crab then garnish with the spring onions and coriander leaves.
  9. Serve.
Crab on the plate

Crab on the plate

Crab almost gone

Crab almost gone

I have to say, it might seem like a huge amount of pepper, but it works really well. I reckon I could feed it to my non-pepper eating friend Janette and she’d like it!

Spangled Emperor baked in tomato, olive, caper sauce.

Spangled Emperor baked in tomato, olive, caper sauce
Our Carnarvon tomatoes bought two weeks ago are well ripened and needing to be used. Yesterday, I took a kilo of the ripest and made a simple tomato sauce with them with the idea of baking some meaty fish fillets in it. I decided (after reading a Jamie Oliver recipe on line) some olives and capers would be a good inclusion along with the last of a bunch of basil also bought in Carnarvon.

We went over to Monkey Mia at 1pm today to crab for a couple of hours (came home with 10) so it was nice to know dinner was basically organised. The sun was just starting to set when we got home, so I grabbed the chance to try out a new lens I got for my camera the other day. I was really impressed with one of my photos-it shows a pile of salt in the background-that salt is about 20ks away across the bay!

Useless loop and that pile of salt are about 20ks away

Useless loop and that pile of salt are about 20ks away

Spangled Emperor Baked in Tomato, Olive, Caper Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced (I had to use a red one)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1kg tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon chicken stock powder
  • large pinch mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Small handful basil leaves, torn
  • Handful of black olives-smash lightly with the flat of a knife and remove stone
  • 1 tablespoon capers.
  • Firm white fish fillets-enough for two (sauce could stretch to feed 4)
  • Spray oil
  • Cooked pasta or rice (I used risonni because I love it)
  • Chopped Parsley and lemon or lime to serve
Spangled Emperor in the pan

Spangled Emperor in the pan

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 190c.
  2. Heat the oil add the onion and garlic and cook over a gentle heat until well softened.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, white wine, stock powder, mixed spice and brown sugar, cook over a gentle heat until the tomatoes have broken down and you have a thickish sauce.
  4. Add the olives and capers, then pop the fish in on top of the sauce. Spray with the oil.
  5. Place in a preheated oven and cook for about 5 mins or until cooked through.
  6. Serve over pasta or rice with the parsley scattered over and lemon or lime on the side.

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Fried Quail with Spicy Salt

Fried quail with spicy salt

Fried quail with spicy salt

Monday we put the boat in at Fowlers Camp and headed out to our fishing spot off Eagle Bluff. We’ve been fishing there for years always catching heaps of just undersized pink snapper and the occasional size one that we can bring home. It’s a beautiful spot that we often have to ourselves apart from the dolphins there fishing for the small pinks. We came home with 2 pinks and 1 black snapper and a big flathead-something we’ve never caught there before. I cooked one of the snapper whole in the oven, stuffing the cavity with lemongrass, ginger, kaffir lime leaves and coriander stalks. Simple but good food!

Snapper on the plate

Snapper on the plate

It was so nice out there Monday, we headed out again Tuesday but couldn’t even catch the bottom!

Today, we spent the afternoon out crabbing at Monkey Mia. We had to wait for some dimwits on the boat ramp-they couldn’t back a trailer then pulled out and did all the tying down of their boat while we waited for them, then we only got 6 crabs and soaking wet in some promised rain that finally arrived. It was lovely to get home to a hot shower.

Before we left, I made the spicy salt and marinade, while Russ split the quail for tonight’s dinner. We didn’t shoot these quail, but bought them in Perth to enjoy one night in the future on our trip north. Tonight was the night. After an average day at Monkey Mia dinner was a feast!

I like my quail treated simply so the flavour still comes through-I think intense marinades kill all that-this recipe is one of the best. We ate the quail with a Green Papaya salad made with some of our last Carnarvon ingredients. It amazes me how long this good, fresh produce actually lasts; even now one week and 5 days after purchase the stuff is still better than if I’d brought it “fresh” at a supermarket today!

This recipe comes from a book Taste of China I bought years ago and is a family favourite for quail. I save the rest of the spicy salt, sieve it and use it on fish (especially sand whiting) and squid.

Fried Quail with Spicy Salt
Salt and Pepper Mix

  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder

Quail

  • 4 quail
  • 1 teaspoon salt and pepper mix
  • (see above)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 2 -3 tablespoons plain flour
  • oil (for deep frying)
  • lemon wedges, to serve
Fried quail with spicy salt

Fried quail with spicy salt

Method

  1. To make the spicy salt and pepper, combine the ingredients and dry fry over a low heat for 2-3 minutes or until aromatic.
  2. Split each quail in half down the middle and clean well. I like to remove the back bone with my knife and pull out the ribs, breast bone and wishbone with my fingers.
  3. Marinate with the teaspoon of spicy salt and pepper, sugar, soy and rice wine for 2-3 hours, turning frequently.
  4. Coat each quail piece in flour, dusting off the excess.
  5. Fill a wok to 1/4 full with oil and heat the oil to 190c.
  6. Fry the quail for 2-3 minutes each side then remove from the wok and drain on kitchen paper.
  7. Serve with the lemon wedges on the side.

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Oven Baked Crabs in Garlic Butter

Oven Baked Crabs in Garlic Butter

Oven Baked Crabs in Garlic Butter

Finally the god of crabs has smiled upon us. We went over to Monkey Mia yesterday and fished for a while to catch some butter fish for our crab nets, then threw them out and prayed. We took along 8 nets and I reckon we did about three rounds of them to come home with 7 good size crabs. I’ve never (ever) thrown back so many undersized crabs, and not a girl or small shark in the nets either! Three years ago, we couldn’t catch a crab out there to save ourselves so it was really heartening to see some around.

Finished crabbing for the day

Finished crabbing for the day

Today we went out again and came home with 9. I reckon I threw back 20 legal size ones, but I hate picking small crabs and legal size is still a small crab in my opinion. I sit at the pointy end of the boat and deal with the nets so I say “yeah” or “nay” as to whether we keep them or not. Yesterday was cold and a bit windy with a small a chop, so I copped a soaking bringing the nets in; today was perfect, and so still I could see the crabs in the nets 4 metres down.

Last night we saved 4 of the biggest crabs for our dinner tonight in case today’s crabbing was a failure.

The crab recipe I’m posting has been one of our favourites since finding it on line years ago. I think the original was written for those big frozen Alaskan King Crab legs you can buy, but I make it using the blue swimmers we catch. I either save all the biggest claws or halve or quarter smaller crabs. The fresh parsley (the original asked for dried) and chilli are my inclusions.

If you’ve never baked a crab, try it-it really intensifies the natural sweetness of the crabs. Make sure you have some good rustic bread to mop up all the yummy garlic butter, and serve with a simple salad to offset the richness of the crabs. Due to the artery clogging goodness of these, we only eat very occasionally, so they’re really special to us.

Oven Baked Crabs in Garlic Butter

  • A couple of crabs each (really depends on crab size and your appetite), quartered, or crab claws, lightly cracked
  • 125g butter
  • 1/2 head of garlic, (5 or 6 cloves), crushed
  • 1 chilli, minced,or could use dried flakes (and to taste whatever you use!)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • sea salt
  • parsley

Oven Baked Crabs in Garlic Butter 2

Method

  1. First catch your crabs!
  2. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium low heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and chilli, saute lightly. Squeeze in the juice of the lemon and lime.
  4. Hold on a low heat letting the flavours meld while your oven heats. Add salt to taste and a tablespoon or two of chopped fresh parsley. Whisk in the olive oil and remove from the heat
  5. Arrange the crabs in a baking dish, brushing each leg with the sauce. Pour any remaining sauce over them.
  6. Bake crabs for about 20 minutes or so (depending on how thick the quarters/claws you have are), brushing the sauce from the bottom of the pan onto the legs every 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven. Scatter over more fresh parsley.
  7. Serve the crabs in the baking dish so you can dip bread and crab meat into the pan juices.

Shark!

Goan-style Fish Curry

Goan-style Fish Curry

But just a little one!

Fishing was slow yesterday and crabs non-existent so when the wind got up (as it seems to every day) we decided to call it quits, pull the nets in and go home. Much excitement when the last net I pulled in had a shark tangled in it. She (no claspers) was close to dead, so we decided to bring her home and eat her. I love shark (or flake as Victorians call it) but it’s hit and miss just how good they’ll be. We’ve found further north that they can get a bit “stringy” and are not at all good eating. Russ can tell the minute he starts to fillet them whether we’ll be keeping them. Lucky this one was OK because I’d already decided we should curry it!

I am a bit funny about “wet” fish dishes, preferring my fish Panko crumbed most often. I hate the thought of fish flaking to bits in a dish as it doesn’t seem at all appetising, and I would NEVER order a “fish” curry out in case they gave me some type of fish I’d normally choose not to eat (Nile Perch or Basa come to mind). And what if it wasn’t fresh?!

So a beautiful piece of just caught shark, with it’s very slight iodine flavour, firm but tender flesh, really makes me happy. And the curry Russ made from our new curry cookbook made me even happier!

I should add in the end, we came home with a mixed bag of fish-a whiting, flathead, a trevally, two herrings and the shark so it was a pleasant couple of hours. The trevally and herring are already smoked, and the remaining shark, flathead and whiting frozen. And while we were fishing, we saw the big white (albino?) sting ray that inhabits the spot where we fish. We hadn’t seen him up until then, and not for a couple of years, so it was good to see him still alive and looking well!

The day before yesterday, I felt a big lazy bite on my line and started to pull in a big lazy something. It was the biggest banjo shark we’ve ever caught here. They are quite good eating, but I just couldn’t do it to him-even a big one doesn’t have that much flesh to make it fair (in my opinion) so back he went!

Earlier this week (last Sunday), we drove to Perth so we could baby sit new grandson Harry. It was his parents first wedding anniversary and they celebrated by going to the movies in the afternoon and then out to dinner in the evening. We had a wonderful time with Harry who was such a good little 6 week old boy for us. He is gorgeous.

Monday and Tuesday night were spent with our daughter-in-law Leah, as son Blair was away in Africa for work. We had a great time with Russ cooking us dinner on the Monday, then dinner out at Tamarind Cambodian restaurant Tuesday.

The trip to Perth also allowed us to do our little bit of Christmas shopping, discuss Christmas/New year plans with Leah, arrange to get Russ’s glasses repaired, buy some new clothes and collect our mail. On the way home, we stopped in Donnybrook for more lovely avocados, tomatoes, cherries and zucchinis. The cherries are in season right now and gorgeous. I thought I might make a relish for Christmas dinner with them, but too late! They are gone!

Back here in Walpole, we decided to extend our stay another 4 days, so we are now here until the 20th, then will overnight at Pinjarra before taking the van up to New Norcia where it’ll holiday for about a month.

Here’s the recipe for the curry as Russ made it. It was very saucy (as we like it) and could easily have taken more fish, or the prawns the original recipe added in.

Goan-style Fish Curry

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 12 fresh curry leaves(we used 2 bay leaves, but would normally have curry leaves)
  • 6 shallots finely chopped (we used a small red onion)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 440 ml can coconut milk
  • 400g firm fleshed white fish fillet, cut into large chunks
  • finely grated rind, and juice of a lime
  • fresh coriander to garnish
Goan-style Fish Curry

Goan-style Fish Curry

Method

  1. Heat a wok over high heat, then add the oil. Add the mustard seeds and stir for about a minute or until they pop.Stir in the curry leaves.
  2. Add the shallots and garlic and stir for about 5 minutes, or until the shallots are golden.
  3. Stir in the spices and salt and stir for a further 30 seconds.
  4. Add the coconut milk, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and stir for about 2 minutes.
  5. Reduce the heat to low, add the fish and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the fish is cooked.
  6. Add half the lime juice, taste and decide if you want more!
  7. Sprinkle with the lime rind and serve. Sprinkle with fresh coriander leaves.