Tag Archives: Monkey Mia

Crab Risotto

Crab Risotto

Crab Risotto

We had a late brunch yesterday (bacon and eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms on toast mmmmm) then went over to Monkey Mia to crab.

On the way across, I commented to Russ that if we happened to get any crabs, I’d make risotto for dinner Friday. We haven’t heard of anyone in the park crabbing, or getting crabs so I thought maybe they (the crabs) had moved on. How wrong was I. We’re only fishing on one licence now as the fishing is poor and 20 crabs is enough but they were there in huge numbers.

Pearl farm Monkey Mia

Pearl farm Monkey Mia

We had 8 nets out and every run (we did about 6) got us at least one, and often two, crabs in each net. We threw back lots of just size crabs to bring home 14 big beauties. I also pulled in a shovel nose shark/ray that was at least 1.2 metres long in one pot .  Russ has only ever been nipped by a crabs  a couple of times but one got him yesterday. It was undersized with one deformed claw. We threw it back, went back and picked that net up again 20 minutes later and there the nasty little bugger was again!

Back from crabbing watching Shotover go out

Back from crabbing watching Shotover go out

Last night we cooked the crabs and put them in the fridge-this morning we picked them. Out of interest, I weighed the meat. We got 1.2 kg! Then out of interest I priced blue swimmer crab meat-about $60 a kg so quite a nice little feed! We froze three packs of around 300g each, and kept back about 300g for risotto tonight.

Dubaut Inlet

Dubaut Inlet

After lunch we went for a drive to Dubaut Inlet-a lovely little creek Beaty and Charlie have often spoken of but we’ve never seen.  We probably did 10 ks of 4WDing through biridas, up and down red sand hills, to a little inlet surrounded by mangroves. It was one of those flat, still days when it becomes hard to tell the sky from the sea-very beautiful. It was a great few hours.

At home, I made crab risotto for dinner and we sat, as usual, telling each other how lucky we are!

Crab Risotto

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 leek, sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed, divided
    • 1 cup aborio rice
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • 3 cups chicken stock (approximately), kept simmering on another burner
    • zest of a lemon, divided
    • 2 tablespoon shredded basil, divided
    • 30 g grated parmesan cheese
    • 60g butter
    • cracked black pepper (much as you like)
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • Cooked crab meat (as much as you have, or want for two people)
Crab Risotto

Crab Risotto

Method

  1. Heat the oil and cook the leek until it’s well softened. Add half the garlic and cook a minute or so more.
  2. Add the rice and cook until it’s coated with the oil. Tip in the wine and cook, stirring, until it’s evaporated. Now start and add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring until it’s completely evaporated, before adding the next.
  3. This might take about 25 minutes in total but keep stirring and when you get near the end of the stock, start tasting a grain of rice-it needs a bit of bite in the centre but to be 9/10ths cooked. When you reckon it’s almost done, add in half the lemon zest and shredded basil.
  4. When you are sure it’s done, turn the heat off and stir through the butter and parmesan, the lemon juice and black pepper. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes.
  5. Mix together the remaining garlic, basil and zest to make a gremolata
  6. Serve the risotto in a flat disc, sprinkle over the gremolata, top with the crab. Eat!

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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!

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.

Denham, Shark Bay, Monkey Mia

Sunset from our van

Sunset from our van

Yesterday, we arrived in Denham for a 5 week stay. Maybe more of you know it as Shark Bay, or know of its near neighbour Monkey Mia-famous for dolphin feeding.

When we first started travelling, we managed to get here about 6 winters in a row, but haven’t visited in three years now, so it feels good to be back. I have to stop myself feeling sad though about all the people we met in the early years who aren’t here now through death, illness or old age.

The boat and trailer are organised and ready to go, it’s a pity the weather hasn’t cooperated. It was just too windy to take the tinny out. At times like this, we can usually go over to Monkey Mia and crab and fish but the direction of the wind even put paid to that. We used the spare time to catch up on a couple of weeks worth of laundry and make Chilli Jam from the lovely chillies we bought at a farm gate in Carnarvon on Friday. We also bought tomatoes so it’ll be chutney next!

5 Cup Chilli Jam

5 Cup Chilli Jam

After accepting it was too cold and windy to fish, we took a drive out to Monkey Mia to see it’s still there and check out the boat ramp. Our friend Beaty here in the park told us her neighbour caught 34 crabs there this morning so of course WE are off to try and do the same tomorrow!

Shark Bay on the way home from Monkey Mia

Shark Bay on the way home from Monkey Mia

While we were organising dinner, I looked out the window to see the most amazing sunset we’ve ever seen here. I raced out with the camera and found everyone out of every caravan, 5th wheeler tent and motor home out taking photos as well. Then Russ took the camera up to the dunes for a few more photos. We reckon it almost rivaled the sunset at Mt Augusta the other night! Once again, that amazing colour is EXACTLY how it was-not post editing!

Our salad at dinner tonight was made using more of the lovely stuff we bought in Carnarvon-pumpkin, and the best rocket you’ll ever buy-from Morels in town. I know the sauce is the similar to last nights that we had over the eggplant dish, but it works so well with this salad I had to do it. I would add fetta or bocconchini to the salad if I had them but I didn’t! You could use spinach instead of rocket, but I like rocket the best.

Pumpkin and Rocket Salad

  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint (all I have on hand or I’d use fresh)
  • 1 teaspoons runny honey
  • 2 cups diced Pumpkin
  • 1 red onion, cut into chunky wedges, then separated
  • 1 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small can baby beets, washed, drained and halved or quartered (rinsing them stops them bleeding through the salad)
Pumpkin and Rocket Salad

Pumpkin and Rocket Salad

Method

  1. Mix the yoghurt, honey and mint together. Pop in the fridge.
  2. Preheat your oven to 190c
  3. Toss the pumpkin, onion, cumin, paprika and pine nuts in the olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
  4. Spread on a baking tray and bake for about 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender (but not mushy)
  5. Arrange the rocket on a platter, add the roasted veg, scatter the baby beets then drizzle over the yoghurt mix and serve.

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