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.
- 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
- 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)
- 1For 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.
- 2Wash 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.
- 3Heat 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).
Drink Suggestion: Dry but full-bodied and fruity rosé. Drink suggestion by Max Allen
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