Crab boil

Jill Dupleix
Crab boil: Count on a mess and a meal full of fun and flavour.
Crab boil: Count on a mess and a meal full of fun and flavour. Photo: Edwina Pickles

If you don't mind a mess, this savoury US tradition could be for you.


4 to 6 uncooked blue swimmer crabs

3 tbsp salt

10 small potatoes

3 corn cobs, cut into chunks

125g chilled butter, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely grated

2 tbsp parsley, chopped

''Old Bay'' crab boil spice mix:

2 tbsp celery seed

1 tbsp each of black pepper, brown mustard seeds, coriander seeds

2 dried bay leaves

2 tsp each sea salt, paprika

1 tsp each cayenne, garlic powder, allspice


1. Grind the whole seeds and bay leaves to a powder, and mix with sea salt, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder and allspice.

2. Bring a big (10-litre) pot of water to the boil. Add 3 tbsp salt, 2 tbsp spice mix, potatoes and corn and cook for 20 minutes until tender.

3. Add the crabs and bring back to the boil. Simmer for six minutes or until cooked, then drain.

4. Insert a sharp knife at the back of the head shell and lever off the shell. Discard the feathery ''dead man's fingers'', then chop the crab into quarters.

5. Combine the butter, garlic, parsley and 2 tbsp of the spice mix in a pan and cook until hot and just melted. Toss the crabs (and their shells), corn and potatoes in the butter, pile on a platter and serve hot.