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Josh Niland Hand Picked Spanner Crab recipe

Josh Niland’s Hand Picked Spanner Crab Recipe

Preparation time
40 minutes
Cooking time
8 minutes

This dish combines the sweet and delicate nature of the picked crab meat and the richness of the glassy coral sauce. Match this with a smooth and velvet like Pinot Gris such as the Purple Hands Wines Pinot Gris 2017. Fresh from the Adelaide Hills, it shows precision and harmony thanks to super-ripe fruit giving juicy length and satin softness with a touch of beeswax on the finish.


  • 4 whole live spanner crabs
  • 100g of table salt for every 1L water
  • Sourdough bread and butter to serve


  1. Place 400g table salt and 4 litres of water in a large saucepan and bring to a rolling boil.
  2. Add crabs and return to the boil. Cook for 6 minutes (adjust cooking time according to weight, for every 100g crab it represents 1 minute so if the crab is 600g that is 6mins + 2mins so 8mins in total.
  3. Remove crabs from boiling water to a clean surface and allow to rest for minimum 2mins before picking to allow the meat to continue to cook.
  4. Remove triangular flap underneath crab and lift top shell away from body, set aside shell and coral. Lift out and discard feathery gills. Wipe crab with a damp cloth to clean and clean out remaining coral.  Cut crab in half horizontally. Pick meat from crab.  Set aside.  
  5. All coral that has been set aside from the top shell of the crab, decant through a fine sieve and gently warm this liquid in a saucepan until thick and glossy approximately 3mins on a medium heat.
  6. Combine salt and water to form a paste. Place on centre of serving plate, this is not for consumption but merely for presentation.
  7. Place clean crab shell on top of salt paste, re heat sauce (do not boil).  Fill shell with crab meat and pour over sauce.      

Wine Match: Purple Hands Wines Pinot Gris 2017

Preparation Time
40 minutes
Cooking Time
8 minutes
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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