Chilli Crab

From The Blue Ducks ‘Real Food’ – published by Plum

2 blue swimmer crabs
90 g desiccated coconut juice of 1 lemon
1 red Asian shallot, finely sliced
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
½ bunch of coriander, leaves picked, roots reserved for the chilli mix
vegetable oil, to fry
400 ml coconut milk

Chilli mix
2½ tablespoons vegetable oil
3 red Asian shallots, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
50 g peeled ginger, roughly chopped
6–8-cm lemongrass stalk, white part only, finely chopped
4 long red chillies, roughly chopped
½ bunch of coriander roots, roughly chopped (see above)
60 g palm sugar
2½ tablespoons fish sauce
250 g cherry tomatoes


To make the chilli mix, place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chilli and coriander root to the pan while stirring constantly. Everything should start to caramelise pretty quickly. Add the palm sugar, which will melt and make a spicy caramel. Keep cooking until the chillies are soft, add the fish sauce, and continue to cook until the liquid has mostly gone. Add the cherry tomatoes, crushing them with the back of a wooden spoon as you stir. Keep stirring the mix until the tomatoes have completely broken down. Add the mix to a blender and process until smooth, or keep it a bit rough, it’s up to you. Remove the top shell from the crabs, discard the gills and set the mustard aside (only the really yellow parts). Cut each crab into four pieces.

Mix the coconut, lemon juice, sliced shallots and chilli flakes in a small bowl. Tear in the coriander leaves and work into a rough sambal with your fingers.

Place a heavy-based frying pan over high heat, add a splash of oil and heat until shimmering and almost smoking. Add the chilli mix and the reserved mustard from the crab and fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the crab pieces and coconut milk and cover for a minute or so to bring the liquid to the boil quickly. Once the liquid is at a vigorous boil, remove the lid and cook for 2 minutes – the key here is a quick cooking time, as the meat will start to break down into little pieces if overcooked.

Once cooked, tip the crab into a large bowl along with all the sauce, scatter over a handful of the coconut sambal and serve.

Serves 2


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