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Mud-crab curry

This curry is light and easy to prepare, and crab always goes down a treat. If you're averse to dispatching your own crab, buy a cooked one and skip the second step.

You'll need

2 live mud crabs (about 900gm each) 1 tbsp peanut oil 650 ml coconut milk 3 long red chillies, halved lengthways 2 tbsp fish sauce 4 kaffir lime leaves, torn, plus extra julienned to serve To serve: julienned ginger, Thai basil leaves and steamed jasmine rice   Curry paste 35 small dried red chillies, broken up and soaked in hot water for 2 hours ½ tsp each coriander seeds and black peppercorns 10 gm fresh turmeric, coarsely chopped 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped 5 gm galangal, coarsely chopped 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, coarsely chopped 1 red shallot, coarsely chopped 2 tsp roasted shrimp paste (see note) Finely grated rind of 1 kaffir lime


  • 01
  • For curry paste, drain and chop chillies, and dry-roast whole spices until fragrant (15-20 seconds). Cool briefly, then crush with a mortar and pestle. Add turmeric, garlic, galangal, lemongrass and a pinch of salt and pound to a coarse paste. Add shallot, shrimp paste, rind and chillies, and pound until smooth. Curry paste will keep frozen for 3 weeks.
  • 02
  • Wash and despatch mud crabs humanely. Bring a large stockpot of salted water to the boil, drop in crabs and cook until they turn pink (13-14 minutes; pull a claw free and if the meat is still translucent, cook a little longer). Drain and set aside to cool briefly (about 10 minutes), then lift flap underneath the crab and pull off back shell. Discard gills and clean out yellow-brown tomalley. Cut crabs into quarters with a large sharp knife, then crack claws with the back of a knife and refrigerate until required.
  • 03
  • Heat oil in a large wok until hot. Add curry paste and stir until fragrant (10-20 seconds). Add coconut milk and bring to the boil, then add chillies, fish sauce and kaffir lime leaves, and simmer until well flavoured (2-4 minutes). Add crab and turn crab over in the sauce until warmed through (2-4 minutes). Scatter with ginger, Thai basil and extra kaffir lime and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Note Roasted shrimp paste is available from Asian grocers; to roast it yourself, wrap shrimp paste in foil and roast in a moderate oven until pungent (5-10 minutes).

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Drink Suggestion

Dry but full-bodied and fruity rosé.

Featured in

Jul 2015

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