Beanthread Crab Casserole


Southeast Asia has long been a crossroads of many cultures and one example of how Chinese cooking has influenced the Thais is the way in which Chinese-style dishes are often cooked in clay pots in Thai cuisine. The foods are cooked in a very hot wok, then poured into a clay pot, covered, and cooked until all the flavours fuse together. What makes it all very special are the spices and seasonings that are uniquely Thai.

Crab, of course, is a royal food, but this recipe works well with any seafood.


  • 110 g (4 oz) dried beanthread noodles
  • 1.4 kg (3 lb) live or freshly cooked crab in the shell
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut (peanut) oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 tablespoons finely sliced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 400 ml (14 fl oz) homemade chicken stock or store-bought fresh stock
  • 2 teaspoons sugar


Soak the noodles in a large bowl of warm water for 15 minutes. When soft, drain and discard the water. Cut into 7.5 cm (3 in) lengths using scissors or a knife. Set aside.

To dispatch a live crab, drop it in a large pot of boiling water until there is no movement – a minute or so. Remove and drain.

Remove the tail-flap, stomach sac and feathery gills from the crab. Using a heavy knife or cleaver, cut the crab, shell included, into large pieces.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the garlic, ginger and shallots and stir-fry for 1 minute. Then add the crab pieces and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Now add the rest of the ingredients including the noodles and continue to cook the mixture over a high heat for about 2 minutes. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Turn it onto a large, warm serving platter and serve. It is perfectly good manners to eat the crab with your hands, but I suggest that you have a large bowl of water decorated with lemon slices on the table so that your guests can rinse their fingers.