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Moreton Bay bug curry with mango

The sweet flesh of Moreton bay bugs steal the show in this vibrant curry that makes the most of summer produce.

By Lisa Featherby
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 10 mins cooking
  • Serves 10
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A vibrant curry always satisfies a crowd, and for something a bit special, we've opted for Moreton Bay or Balmain bugs. You'll need to use a sturdy, heavy, sharp knife to break through their tough shells. Lobster meat, crabs or prawns will also work well. The curry paste can be made a day or two ahead.


  • 10-12 fresh or frozen (and thawed) moreton bay or balmain bugs
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1.6 litres coconut milk
  • 2 slightly underripe mangoes, coarsely chopped
  • 6 makrut (kaffir) lime leaves, torn
Curry paste
  • 30 dried long red chillies, soaked in cold water for at least 4 hours or overnight, then drained and coarsely chopped
  • 6 red shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 30 gm galangal, coarsely chopped
  • 15 gm fresh turmeric, or 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks (white part), coarsely chopped
  • 3 tsp roasted shrimp paste
  • 6 coriander roots, scraped


  • 1
    For curry paste, pound ingredients in batches with a pinch of salt with a large mortar and pestle to a smooth paste (this can also be done in a food processer with a little oil).
  • 2
    Place the bugs shell-side down and, while holding with a tea towel, insert a knife into the middle of the bug, then cut downwards and along the length of the bug, pressing firmly to crack through the shell. Turn and repeat on the other side to split the bugs entirely. Remove meat and refrigerate wrapped in plastic wrap in an airtight container until needed (bugs will keep for up to 3 days; the shells can be used in a stock).
  • 3
    Heat coconut oil in a very large saucepan over high heat, then add curry paste and stir until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add coconut milk and bring to a simmer, then season with fish sauce. Add bug meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until flesh turns opaque (2-4 minutes). Stir in mango and lime leaves and season with lime. Top with coriander and Thai basil and serve with lime wedges.