Blue Swimmer Crab with Roasted Chilli Paste


Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Balance and Harmony

By Neil Perry

Published 2008

  • About

This chilli paste is just wonderful with crabs — split the shells open and let them absorb the flavours. You could of course use mud crab or spanner crab, but the paste is great with any kind of seafood. It’s also wonderful if you deep-fry the prawns in crispy batter and spoon chilli paste all over them. Then you just need rice and you’ll be in heaven.


  • 3 × 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) blue swimmer crabs, cleaned and chopped into quarters
  • 300 g (10½ oz/1 cup) chilli paste
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 3 tablespoons coconut cream
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, crushed
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 60 g ( oz/ cup) grated palm sugar (jaggery)
  • 1 small handful of Thai basil leaves


    Heat the oil in a wok until just smoking (180°C/350°F), and deep-fry the crab in batches until bright red and cooked through, then drain on paper towel.

    Pour all but 3 tablespoons of oil from the wok, and reheat the wok until just below smoking point. Add the coconut cream and stir-fry until it ‘splits’, then add the lime leaves and chilli paste, stir-fry for 2 minutes more, then finally add the fish sauce and palm sugar, and cook for another minute for the flavours to mingle. Add the crab to the wok and toss together. Stir in the basil and spoon onto a large plate to serve.