The Aesthete

Reign It In

Australia's Colossal King Crab rules the waters down under

by Kiri Tannenbaum

True chefs are not only great cooks – they're also great eaters. Fifteen years ago, Ed Schoenfeld, creator and operating partner of the quirky greenmarket-inspired Asian eatery RedFarm, was on an eating tour of Australia. One such stop on the tour-de-food included chef Tetsuya Wakuda’s eponymous restaurant Tetsuya’s in Sydney. “He’s Australia’s equivalent of Thomas Keller,” Schoenfeld says.  After an extravagant five-hour luncheon of delicate Japanese dishes, the famed chef invited Schoenfeld and his crew to join him for an after-hours meal. (It seems Sydney, home to Australia’s largest Chinatown, has its own tradition of going out for late-night Chinese.)

At the midnight feast, Tetsuya ordered an array of seafood; local oysters, lobsters, abalone, barramundi from the Coral Sea off the Great Barrier Reef and, last but not least, the Australian king crab. Unlike its sibling the Alaskan king crab, the Australian is one of great proportions. According to Schoenfeld, the colossal crustacean he dined on weighed 25 to 30 pounds and cost upwards of $1,000. The highly prized creatures can be found only in the southern waters off Australia where the temperature is cool.  Schoenfeld pays tribute to that memorable night at RedFarm with his simply prepared chilled Dungeness crab dish, succulent and sweet with Asian flavors.