Dry Lobster Curry


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Balance and Harmony

By Neil Perry

Published 2008

  • About

This dish is delicious and, once you get used to dispatching lobsters, it isn’t too difficult. You can add some coconut milk to make it a little saucier but don’t overdo it; it’s great dry with the paste just coating the lobster. You can use this dry curry with pretty much anything that can be stir-fried.


  • 1 × 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) live lobster
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 3 tablespoons grated palm sugar (jaggery)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) fresh chicken stock
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves, cut into julienne
  • 1 handful of coriander (cilantro) leaves


  • ½ teaspoon white peppercorns, roasted and ground
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, roasted and ground
  • 10 dried long red chillies, deseeded, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes and chopped
  • a large pinch of sea salt
  • tablespoons chopped galangal
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, chopped
  • finely grated zest of 1 kaffir lime
  • 4 coriander (cilantro) roots, scraped and chopped
  • ½ small Spanish onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Thai shrimp paste, wrapped in foil and roasted until fragrant


Pound the paste ingredients in a mortar with a pestle until you have a fine paste. Or process with a blender, using a little water if necessary.

Kill the lobster humanely, then cut it in half lengthways and clean the insides. Cut each half crossways into thirds.

Heat the oil in a wok or deep-fryer until just smoking (180°C/350°F), and deep-fry the lobster in batches until golden brown, then remove and drain on paper towel. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the wok.

Add the paste to the wok and stir-fry over medium heat until fragrant. Add the sugar, fish sauce and stock, bring to the boil, add the cooked lobster and toss together. Sprinkle with the lime and coriander leaves.