Mud Crabs are marine and estuarine coastal dwellers that can tolerate low salinity for extended periods, preferring shallow water with a muddy bottom in mangroves, sheltered estuaries and tidal flats (though females with eggs are often found well offshore).
Found around most of the Australian coast from NSW north around to Shark Bay, WA; most of the commercial catch is from Queensland and NT, with some also from NSW. Caught in pots, drop nets and dillies.
You can catch mud crabs year round, with peaks from January to April in Queensland and NSW and from May to August in NT.
Size and Weight
Commonly about 17cm in carapace width and 500g-1kg, but can grow to 28cm and 3kg. Size restrictions vary from state to state.
The shell is a dull dark blue-green to mottled brown when uncooked; like all crustaceans, they turn orange when cooked. Average yield is 25% (from claws and body, largely from front claws). The flesh is translucent when raw and white to off-white when cooked, it has a medium-strong, sweet flavour, low oiliness and is moist and flaky. Body meat has a medium texture, while claw meat is firmer. Some people enjoy the stronger-tasting ‘mustard’ or brown meat (internal organs) in the body. The most humane, and easiest, method of killing any crustacean is to chill it in the freezer for about 45 minutes until it becomes insensible (but not long enough to freeze it). Once chilled, it should be killed promptly by splitting in half or dropping into rapidly boiling water.
Steam, poach, deep-fry, pan-fry, stir-fry (it’s best to partially cook by steaming, boiling or poaching before pan- or stir-frying). Do not recook cooked Crabs, pick the meat and use it in salads, sandwiches, as a garnish for soups, or in dishes where it is just gently warmed, such as pasta, risotto, Crab cakes and omelettes. The large front claws can be battered or crumbed (with or without stuffing) and deep-fried.
Goes Well With
Anchovies, black pepper, butter, chervil, chilli, coconut, coriander, cream, fish sauce, dill, garlic, ginger, lemon, lemongrass, lime, mayonnaise, nutmeg, onion, parsley, soy sauce, tarragon, tomatoes, turmeric.