Fijian crab curry
Fresh mud crabs are just so sweet, meaty and rather special. Crabs are a long-standing part of my life. My late husband loved crabs. He loved watching documentaries about them; cooking shows featuring them and I must say he had a fascination for all types of crabs, but only fresh ones. He also made a rather mean crab curry. I treasure memories of cooking crabs beside him, in both our home and café kitchens.
Some of these memories involve buying, prepping and cooking crabs. Especially when family or friends were visiting from overseas. He would make the effort to find mud crabs, or if in season sweet local crabs. Sometimes even going out to wait for the fishermen with their catch somewhere in Coogee.
When we had family visiting, aunts, uncles and cousins; Anand and I would prepare mud crabs in our café, so we had the space and the heat of the wok burners to cook larger batches.
One of my more recent treasured memories, is of a family holiday in Fiji a couple of years ago where we indulged in some memorable seafood dishes including – Fijian Crab Curry. Ask your fishmonger to prepare the mud crabs for you, if you haven’t done it before, although there are instructions below if you want to give it a go.
Ingredients − Serves 4
- 1 live mud crab (about 1.5 kg)
- ¼ cup oil
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- ½ tsp fenugreek seeds, soaked in warm water for ½ an hour
- 2 onions, finely minced
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed to paste
- 3 stalks curry leaves
- 1 jar Latasha’s Kitchen Homestyle Seafood Curry Paste
- ¼ cup water
- 250 ml (1 cup) stock (fish, seafood or vegetable) or water
Lightly toasted in a fry pan, then roughly ground
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- Red chillies
- Green chillies
- Fried curry leaves
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The best way to kill a mud crab as humanely as possible, is to place the crab in a deep freezer to render it insensible (40-45 minutes).
Then using a dishcloth, place crab upside-down on a board and kill instantly by inserting a long sharp pointed knife into the head between the eyes and into the hole above the tail flap.
Cut crab in half through the body using a cleaver or a sharp long knife. Lift tail, pull away from the belly, then turn crab over and remove top shell on both halves. Reserve shells if you intend to use it for serving. Now pull away the long grey gills aka dead man’s fingers, and bin it. Next remove large claws with a a sharp knife, then cut each half of the body into two. Using the back of a cleaver, lightly crack claws. This helps the curry flavours to infuse the crab.
- Heat oil in a large saucepan or wok over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and stir until they begin to pop.
- Add onion, ginger, garlic, curry leaves and stir until onion is soft (8 minutes). Then add in the fenugreek seeds, chilli and turmeric powders, Latasha’s Kitchen Homestyle Seafood Curry Paste and water.
- Cook until aromatic (5 minutes).
- Add crab and stir to coat. Add water or stock and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until crab is just cooked and liquid thickens (8 minutes). Sprinkle with toasted fennel and cumin powder.
- Serve crab curry in a large bowl along some steamed basmati rice and vegetables or salad.