Blue swimmer crabs with XO sauce

Blue swimmer crabs with XO sauce

At Home with Ben
Mark Roper

You can buy XO sauce, but it doesn’t have enough dried scallops to make it true XO. Most of the ingredients for this recipe can be found at good Asian provedores. If you can’t find Asian red shallots, just use normal French shallots.


Quantity Ingredient
140ml sunflower oil
250g fresh egg or rice vermicelli noodles, cooked according to packet instructions
2kg male blue swimmer crabs, cleaned
4 spring onions, whites and green tops separated and chopped
100ml shaoxing rice wine
1 tablespoon cornflour

XO sauce

Quantity Ingredient
25g dried salted fish, chopped, (optional)
125g dried scallops
75g dried shrimp
50g cured chinese sausage
2 cups sunflower oil
75g garlic, chopped
75g red asian shallots, peeled and finely chopped
50g dried red chillies, broken up
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the XO sauce, soak the dried fish (if using) in several changes of water for 3 hours. Soak the dried scallops in water for 30 minutes, then simmer for 30 minutes, until soft. Drain, retaining the poaching water, and shred the scallops. Soak the dried shrimp in hot water for 30 minutes, then drain and mince. Dice the sausage and salted fish into 2 mm pieces.
  2. When you’re ready to make the sauce, heat the sunflower oil in a wok over high heat. Add the garlic, shallots and minced shrimp and cook until the moisture evaporates and the mixture begins to fry. Add the chillies, sausage and fish and cook until the chillies and sausage are translucent. Stir in the shredded scallops. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the pepper. Transfer to a food processor and pulse to roughly blend.
  3. Clean the wok, then pour in 100 ml sunflower oil and heat over high heat. Add the pre-cooked noodles – leave them in the shape of a flat nest – and fry for 5 minutes, until crispy and golden, turning the nest to cook on both sides. Transfer to a serving dish and keep warm.
  4. Heat the wok over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil. Add the crabs and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the whites of the spring onions, the rice wine and 100 ml of the scallop poaching water. Steam for 4 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of XO sauce and steam for another 4 minutes until the crabs are cooked.
  5. Combine the cornflour with 1/4 cup of water to make a thin paste. Stir into the mixture to thicken the sauce.
  6. To serve, pour the crab mixture and sauce over the noodles and garnish with the chopped green spring onion tops.
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