Crab in spicy coconut gravy (Ketam masak cili padi) – 香辣椰奶花蟹

Eating crabs is a hands-on activity and can be a messy affair. If you want to enjoy them at home, try preparing our version of crab in spicy coconut gravy!

In this recipe, we are using flower crabs instead of the usual mud crabs. Flower crabs are smaller, have softer shells, and are easier to clean – perfect for those of you cooking crab at home for the first time. Try to get fresh flower crabs from the market and pick the ones that are heavier and avoid any of them that smell bad. To get the rich, orange roe that will boost the crab flavour in the gravy, choose female crabs that have a wider, rounder triangular flap on their belly. Flower crabs don’t take long to cook so keep an eye on them when they are simmering in the pan. You will know they are ready when the shells turn completely bright red.

The base of the sauce is a rempah that consists of chillies, shallots, turmeric and garlic. We add coconut milk to cut through the spiciness from the chilli, and later coconut cream to thicken the sauce. The end result is a delightful, lemak gravy with a hint of seafood that is best enjoyed with a steaming hot bowl of rice.

You can adjust the amount of chillies in the rempah to suit your personal preference. You can also try this recipe with other seafood such as prawns – just remember to adjust the cooking time so you don’t overcook the seafood. Enjoy!

#themeatmensg #simple #delicious

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  • Servings: 2

  • Time: 45 mins

  • Skill: Intermediate


  1. 3 flower crabs

  2. 1 lemongrass (bruised)

  3. 1 turmeric leaf (tie into a knot)

  4. 500ml coconut milk

  5. 100ml coconut cream

  6. 250ml water

  7. 1 tamarind skin

  8. 1 tsp salt

  9. ½ tsp sugar

  10. Garnish chopped turmeric leaf

  11. Garnish chopped chilli padis


  1. 5 chilli padis (more if you like it spicier)

  2. 2 red chillies

  3. 50g shallots

  4. 20g turmeric

  5. 10g garlic

  6. 50ml oil


  1. Blend rempah to a fine paste.

  2. Clean crabs. Partially pry open the top shell and remove the gills.

  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil. Fry rempah until fragrant.

  4. Add in 500g flower crab and fry for a minute.

  5. Pour in 500ml coconut milk, 250ml water, 1 tamarind skin, turmeric leaf, salt and sugar.

  6. Simmer on low heat until crabs are cooked, approximately 10 minutes.

  7. Pour in 100ml coconut cream. Stir, season with salt to taste and turn off the fire.

  8. Garnish with chopped chilli padis and turmeric leaf

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