Mallet, fork and chopsticks at the ready - we've found Dubai's best crab dishes
Aprons and Hammers, a claw cracking crab shack on a dhow that serves up seafood in buckets, has become something of a Dubai institution. Next month, it will open a second venue, located on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard. The date is pencilled in for the first week of June, and the new branch will offer the same concept and menu. When quizzed how it will work on dry land (rather than a dhow), Maleck Habib, co-owner at Aprons and Hammers tells us, ‘Whether onshore or off, the concept will work almost anywhere’. We’ll be curious to find out for ourselves, especially since a battle of the crab shacks is set to take place in Downtown. Planned to open at the end of this month is another newcomer, CLAW, which comes to Souk Al Bahar. This Southern American style crab shack promises more bibs and mallets, in addition to the UAE’s first genuine wood-chip smoker and a mechanical rodeo bull. Ahead of these openings, here’s our pick of where to eat crab in Dubai.
O’ style dynamite kani at Okku This impressive dish from Okku features two whole baked king crab legs. The legs are baked and served on cedar wood boards, alongside accompaniments of masago (small fish roe) and a spicy mayonnaise sauce. Dhs480. The H Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 501 8777).
Black pepper crab at Peppercrab As the restaurant’s name might just hint, this venue is famed within Dubai for its crab dishes. Its signature dish, from which the restaurant takes its name, is a Singaporean delicacy of crab cooked in black pepper sauce, which is a variant of the well-known spicy dish of chilli crab. The restaurant’s version uses crushed black pepper corns, butter and dark soya sauce, but in a less peppery and buttery recipe than the original Singaporean-style. It is served with steamed or fried mantou buns to mop up the sauce. POD (seasonal market price). Grand Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222).
California pink veggie roll at Sushi Counter Despite the name, these sushi rolls are far from veggie, with fresh crab meat as the star attraction inside them. The inside-out California-style rolls (with rice on the outside) is also stuffed with avocado, asparagus, cucumber and dill and decorated with blue flowers. Also on the menu are California rolls with crab, topped with tobikko. Dhs28 (for six pieces). City Tower One, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 388 8063). Other location: CNBC Food Court, Dubai Media City (04 375 1096).
A bucket of crab at Aprons and Hammers Dubai’s original crab shack on a dhow is renowned for its simple buckets of seafood – most of all the buckets of crab. An approximately 1kg portion consists of four whole blue crabs. These are ‘half cleaned’, which involves removing the thick shell. The crab is cut into two pieces, but the legs and claws are left intact to maximise the fun for diners of cracking them open with a mallet. The crab is simply steamed, with a choice of sauce (provençal, saffron cream or pepper cream). Dhs180 (for 1kg). Next to Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Dubai Marina (04 454 7097).
Soft shell crab tempura at Nobu Soft shell crab is a species so named because the shell doesn’t need to be removed; it is literally soft enough to eat. For tempura, this creates a dual layer of crunchiness and Nobu’s recipe is teamed with an amazu ponzu suace. Other crab dishes on the menu at Nobu include, soft shell crab spring rolls, king crab leg with shiso salsa and blue crab miso soup. Dhs115. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
Mud crab at Shanghai Chic Although served at a Chinese restaurant, this dish is Malaysian-inspired. The mud crab is both deep and stir-fried in a wok, along with a dried shrimp sauce, curry leaves, ginger, lemongrass, fresh chilli, garlic and onion. Dhs21.50 (per 100g). Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate, The Gardens (04 444 5613).
Devonshire dressed crab at Rivington Grill The British restaurant serves crab in truly English style. The dish uses white and brown crab meat from Devon, England. The crab is handpicked and the term ‘dressed’ denotes that it has been cleaned of shell to leave just the meat. This is mixed with mayonnaise, egg white and yolk and cayenne pepper. The dish is then moulded to replicate the shape of a crab and served with toasted brown bread, made in-house. Dhs95. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 423 0903). Other location: Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6464).
Yam som o at Pai Thai This Thai-style salad uses soft shell crab. It is mixed with the South East Asian citrus fruit pomelo, plus dried coconut, peanuts and a Thai dressing. Another interesting crab dish on the menu is tom poo prik thai dam (clear crab broth with coconut shoot and carrot). Dhs130. Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah, Jumeirah (04 366 6730).
The crab dessert challenge Conscious that Dubai’s most notable crab dishes are savoury our molecular-inspired minds began working overtime, wondering if one could possibly make a dessert made from crab. Its meat is sweet in flavour profile after all… The challenge: We asked top chefs to devise a recipe, for a dessert using crab. The results: We were delighted to be deluged by suggestions from brave palate-testing chefs, who sent in creative and inspired recipes. There were quite a few crab ice creams, and dairy products figured highly in other recipes. Avocado also cropped up as an ingredient more than once, as a clever savoury yet sweet bridge. Here are our favourite three crab desserts from the challenge.
Crab mousse with cucumber jelly by Chef Gavin Gleeson at Wheeler’s Far more complex than the description lets on, this dessert uses the fragrant subtlety of Asian flavours to marry sweet with savoury. The dish is comprised of an Alaskan king crab and saffron cigar, cucumber and aloe vera jelly, crab ice cream, a gingerbread base, crumble, coconut and vanilla foam.
Green tea and blue crab cheese cake with strawberry variations by Chef Ramola Bijendra at Jumeirah Creekside Hotel For this recipe, crab is integrated into both the biscuit base of the cake and the cream cheese filling, which is also flavoured with green tea matcha powder. The plate is then also dressed with strawberry jelly, sauce and salad and candied hazelnuts. Lemongrass marinated crab crème brûlée by Marta Yanci at Marta’s Kitchen A simple recipe, designed to be easy to try out at home, the crème brûlée custard is flavoured with lemongrass and cinnamon and mixed with finely chopped crab meat.