Give the crab meat a good squeeze with your fingers to remove excess liquid. Wet crab meat will result in soggy dumplings.
about 160g fresh picked spanner crab meat*
2 spring onions, finely sliced
5cm x 1cm knob (15g) ginger, finely diced
1 tsp light soy sauce
½ tsp white sugar
½ tsp sesame oil
16 fresh round or square wonton wrappers (about 8cm across)
Sichuan chilli oil (see recipe below)
10g picked native sea blite leaves (or use fresh dill)
pinch of Sichuan pepper and salt (see recipe below)
For the Sichuan pepper and salt
1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
3 tbsp sea salt
For the Sichuan chilli oil
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp white sugar
pinch of Sichuan pepper and salt (see recipe above)
To make the Sichuan pepper and salt dry-roast peppercorns and salt in a heavy-based pan. When peppercorns begin to "pop" and become aromatic, take off the heat. Allow to cool, then grind to a powder in mortar and pestle or spice grinder (makes four tablespoons; store in an airtight container).
To make the Sichuan chilli oil place chilli flakes in a heatproof bowl. Heat oil in a small heavy-based saucepan until the surface seems to shimmer slightly. Carefully pour hot oil over chilli to release the heat and flavour. Stir to combine and set aside for at least 30 minutes to cool.
Strain cooled oil mixture over a bowl through a fine sieve and discard chilli flakes. Stir in remaining ingredients, including a pinch of Sichuan pepper and salt, to combine and set aside.
To make the dumplings
1. Place all the dumpling ingredients (except wonton wrappers, Sichuan chilli oil and Sichuan pepper and salt) in a bowl and combine well.
2. Next, fill and shape the dumplings by placing a rounded teaspoon of the filling in the centre of a wrapper. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edges of the wrapper. Gently lift one side of the wrapper and fold in half over the filling to the opposite side. Lightly press around filling and along edges to seal. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Set the 16 dumplings aside in a single layer on a tray lined with baking paper.
3. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Drop dumplings into the water a few at a time and boil for 2½ minutes or until cooked and wrappers are translucent. To test that the dumplings are ready, remove one and cut into it with a sharp knife to check that the filling is hot. When dumplings are ready, remove with a slotted spoon and drain onto a plate.
4. Arrange dumplings on a platter and serve immediately dressed with Sichuan chilli oil, garnished with the native sea blite and sprinkled with the Sichuan pepper and salt.
*Rockliff and Fraser Isle brand cooked spanner crab meat are available in 500g packets from the Sydney Fish Market and selected Melbourne markets or order from your fishmonger. Freeze the remaining 300g for later use.