And we’re off! Ladies and Gentlemen my Taste Mastering adventure begins in Broome where we pick up our 4WD.
Make sure you know how to work the windscreen wipers otherwise you’ll spend the whole journey with them going like the clappers every time you try and indicate. We’re on our way to Kooljaman, a wilderness camp on the Dampier Peninsula 200km north of Broome in the Kimberley region, and we’re meeting up with my new hero, Brian Lee.
Brian is an Aboriginal elder and mud crab fisherman. He’s softly spoken, extremely wise and a great teacher and story teller. He’s also got a wicked sense of humour! Me being all respectful and first day on the job and everything, fell for the majority of his gags.
Today we’re catching our own dinner and on the menu is mud crab. Armed with just a metal pole and hessian sack we’re at Hunters Creek. Waiting for the tide to go out to reveal the crab holes, Brian suddenly whips his shirt off and dives straight in. He emerges a few minutes later whooping and hollering and holding aloft the biggest, meanest looking crab you’ve ever seen, looks to me and says… “Your turn.” Really??! First day on the job and I’m going to get my fingers ripped off by a massive crustacean?… I’ll never play guitar again.
Thankfully he breaks into a huge smile.
“Oh Brian, you big kidder you” I laugh nervously as sweat pours down my face.
How to catch a mud crab, quite a simple process but absolutely no mean feat:
- Make friends with Aboriginal elder and all round great guy Brian Lee.
- Head on down to Hunters Creek when the tide’s out and have a look for holes in the bank.
- Poke your thin metal pole in said hole. If you hear a kind of metal on metal scratchy sound, you’ve found your crab.
- Hook him out with the hooky part of the pole.
- Stick him on the fire and cook him up real sweet!
Obviously you’ve got to have the knowledge, experience and tenacity to catch a mud crab, and the guts to actually pick it up by its massive pincers. Through Brian’s skill and teachings, we caught 4 crabs that afternoon. We slung them in the sack and headed back to the wagon to cook them over an open fire. Now, I like my bush craft skills and was interested to see what old Aboriginal methods Brian was going to use to get a spark. Turns out it was a lighter! Gotta move with the times I suppose!
Cooking the delicious muddys over an open fire, surrounded by breathtaking scenery as the sun goes down, a first day at work doesn’t get much better than that. Thank you Brian.
Matso’s Chilli Mud Crabs
There’s nothing better than a freshly cooked muddy, and this recipe reflects the simplicity of great fresh produce cooked simply, with a bit of a kick.
- A fresh and tangy recipe inspired by Western Australia’s culinary awesomeness!
- Serves: 4 of your mates
- Cooking time: 30 mins
2 mud crabs from Cape Leveque (Blue Swimmer Crabs from Mandurah work just as well)
2 tablespoons of finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons chopped red chilli (for extra hot, try local chillies from the Gascoyne)
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of raw sugar
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of grated garlic (make sure its local garlic, best for flavour)
2 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce
3 tablespoons of coconut cream
1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon (try the hard skinned ones from Swan Valley and use some of the zest for extra zing)
1 teaspoon of fresh grated organic ginger
200 ml fresh tomato puree
A lug of vegetable oil
A splash of Matso’s ginger beer
A small bunch of coriander (chopped)
Spice it up a bit: Add a splash of chilli tomato sauce
- Clean and chop up the crabs into four pieces
- Heat oil in wok. Add crabs and stir fry until nearly cooked and shells have turned pink
- Chuck everything into the wok except the shallots, half of the coriander and Matso’s ginger beer, bring to a simmer and stir frequently until the crabs have cooked through
- Throw in the shallots and a splash of Matso’s ginger beer
- Pour everything into a big serving bowl and garnish with the rest of the chopped coriander
- Serve up with crusty bread (Yallingup Wood Fired bread is perfect if available) and salad
- Put some tunes on, tuck in and enjoy!!
Tips and Tricks
Getting to Broome and Cape Leveque
- Virgin Australia has daily flights from Perth to Broome.
- Car rental through Budget Rent a Car. Transfer flights also available from Broome.
Where I Stayed
My Expert Local Guides
- Aboriginal elder and Character of the Kimberley Brian Lee of Tagalong Tours.
My Insider Tips
- Let Brian Lee share his country and fascinating history of Cape Leveque with you on his mud crabbing and spearfishing tour, a must on any visit to Cape Leveque.
- Watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean from your glamper’s safari tent at Kooljaman at Cape Leveque.