Pan-fried whole crab with chilli paste Recipe

  • 1-1.5kg cooked whole crab
  • 2 tbsp coconut cream
  • 200ml/7fl oz coconut milk
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, in fine julienne
  • small bunch sweet Thai basil, picked
  • lime juice, to taste
  • palm sugar, to taste
  • fish sauce, to taste
  • 300ml/10fl oz vegetable oil
  • Note: This recipe originally uses Australian measurements. Equivalent measurements are as accurate as possible.
  • This dish serves 1 devoted crab eater or 4 persons as part of a shared meal with steamed jasmine rice.
  1. Pull off the top shell of the crab, discard the brown lungs and wash.
  2. Pull off the claws, chop the body in half, and crack the hard shell on the claws with the back of a cleaver.
  3. Preheat the vegetable oil to 180C/350F in a large wok and add the crabmeat.
  4. Stir fry the crabmeat for 1-2 minutes, then remove from the oil and drain well on kitchen paper.
  5. To a large wok, add 2 tbsp vegetable oil and the coconut cream. Cook on a high heat until the coconut cream fats separate and it becomes fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the chilli paste, lime leaf julienne and chilli halves, fry out until fragrant. This should take about 2 minutes or a touch longer for the homemade paste.
  7. Add the palm sugar and allow to caramelise, then the fish sauce. The flavours of hot, salty, sour and sweet should be balanced.
  8. Add the coconut, bring to the boil and simmer for a minute. At this point, add the crab to the wok and continue to stir-fry until just cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  9. Add the Thai basil and lime juice.