Black Pepper Bugs
  |  First Published: February 2009

On a recent trip through Singapore, I was blown away by the wonderful flavours and textures of the food that was available in the markets. In particular, the black pepper sauce that coated a variety of seafood was my favourite. It was hot and spicy without being mind blowing and partnered the sweet flavour of the seafood to perfection.

All the ingredients listed below are readily available at either your local Asian grocer or supermarket. Please don’t be alarmed at the amount of chilli in this recipe. The chillies that I have used are the large red ones that have a much gentler heat than the tiny ones.


3 tablespoons olive oil

1kg green Moreton Bay Bug tails, halved lengthways

1 green shallot, thinly sliced

Black Pepper Sauce

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, finely grated

0.5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced

3 large red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons Kecap Manis

3 teaspoons sugar

3-4 tablespoons crushed black pepper


(1) Heat the olive oil in a wok over a high heat and stir-fry the bug tails for a couple of minutes. Reduce the heat under the wok to a medium heat, cover the wok and continue to cook for a further three to four minutes (depending on the size of the bug tails). Shake the wok carefully from time to time to move the bugs around in the wok so that you ensure even cooking.

(2) At the end of the cooking time, remove the wok from the heat. Take the bug tails out of the wok and place to one side. Wipe the wok out with a paper towel and then use the same wok to make the black pepper sauce.

The sauce:

(3) Heat the butter and oil in a wok over a low heat. Add the grated garlic and sliced ginger and sauté gently until they are golden brown and aromatic. This should take about three to five minutes.

(4) Add the chillies and sauté for another couple of minutes before adding the oyster sauce, soy sauce, Kecap Manis and sugar. Stir well to combine and simmer over the low heat for about thirty seconds. This part of the recipe requires a very short cooking time.

(5) Add the black pepper to the sauce and stir through. Continue to cook for a minute to allow the sauce to thicken slightly. Return the cooked bug tails back into the wok with the black pepper sauce. Using a large spoon, tumble the bug tails in the sauce to coat thoroughly. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes to allow the bug tails and the sauce to become hot.

(6) Serve the Black Pepper Bugs sprinkled with the sliced shallot.

The seafood used in this recipe was supplied by Princess Charlotte Seafoods phone (07) 3256 9175.

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