Malaccan Black Pepper Crab

As the fresh garden produce gets leaner I rely on what I’ve stored and gathered from earlier in the year and there are always chillies in the freezer and garlic in the cupboard. The chillies here are a mixture of Pretty In Purple and Wenks Early Yellows, great names and great heat!

On my walk to the fishing beach and fish shops the other day I picked up a couple of crab claws, already cooked. They were monsters. I remembered seeing a recipe in a Rick Stein book, a dish from Malaysia that sounded tempting and this is my re-worked version.

I loved the combination of flavours – delicate and sweet crab meat with soy, curry leaves and lots of black pepper – a real fusion dish.

A bit about the crabs. The only way to break into them was placing them on a chopping board and then bashing them with my mum’s rolling pin. And yes a few bits went here and there but it worked, I was in 🙂

Malaccan Black Pepper Crab

Ingredients ~

  • 2 large Crab claws or crabs
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp light Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Kecap Manis or Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Brown Sugar
  • 6 Spring Onions chopped
  • 1 – 2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 inch piece of Ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 15 – 20 curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Butter
  • 1 hot chilli, finely chopped

Method ~

  • In a small bowl mix the soy sauce, kecap manis and brown sugar along with 3 tbsp of water
  • In a large frying pan add the oil and when hot add spring onions, garlic, ginger and curry leaves and fry for a minute
  • Now add the crab pieces and stir for a minute or two
  • Add the black pepper and mix
  • Stir in the soy sauce mixture and coat the crab pieces well
  • Reduce the heat, cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes
  • Uncover and add a knob of butter and the chilli and mix into the sauce
  • Scatter some spring onion pieces on top and serve

A gentle word about eating this, how shall I say it? OK, it can get a tad messy and is probably best done out of sight!

Variations ~ Instead of crabs use fresh or cooked prawns (shelled would be a lot less messy!) and I plan to try it out with some fried tofu, the rich flavours of the sauce would compliment it well.


  • I can just see you bashing that crab with your Mums rolling pins. Take That! and That! I can make this with prawns though.. you can buy frozen prawns here.. c

  • In the US, the merchant ‘scores’ the crab claws with a small saw, but the heaviest shells still need a good bash to get into them.
    I reserve them – and lobster, and anything else that requires a club to subdue – for summertime, and eating outside…
    I like the sauce – be good with some firm white fish like halibut, too.

  • Crab is my absolute all time favourite favourite! Fabulous flavour combination for this scrumptious dish. I usually use a nut cracker to crack through the claws.
    🙂 Mandy

    • It’s rare I get to eat crab (having said that I have another recipe lined up) the meat is so sweet and delicate, I think though Lobster would be my all time favourite. Unfortunately these crab were too big for the nutcracker!

  • Oh, to have been a fly on the wall, watching you do battle with the mighty crab claws! This looks really good. Now all I need do is fine some curry leaves; the crab claws, being already cooked, are surprisingly available here.

    • Hi John, I’m glad you weren’t here I made a pig of myself eating them! But it was fun to bash bash bash 🙂
      If you see fresh curry leaves you can freeze them in a container, and they are like fresh when used, if not you may find them dried and you need to saok them in cold water for a while before using them.

  • This looks simply delicious!! I love your colorful peppers and the combination in this dish is outstanding! How lucky for you to find such huge claws!!

  • I would love so much to have some fresh crab. Canned crab meat is simply disgusting here (or so expensive I don’t even try to buy the best brand). Your dish looks fantastic and the purple chilies look amazing.

  • This looks good even for a veggie like me! I see some yummy garden produce being used here. Lucky you! The chillies have such a beautiful colour, I wonder how they taste? Too spicy?

    • Thank you 🙂 I love having chillies to hand, and they freeze so well. These particular ones are quite peppery and hot. I grow others that are a bit milder

  • I don’t think there’s a neat way to eat crab, it’s always a delicious mess, and I think that’s part of the fun! Sucking that meat and sauce out of the shell is complete BLISS!!!

  • your chillies look so pretty all frozen, must remember to try that …and the crab is sensational … we only have small blue swimmer crabs at our beach so it would be prawns for us too 🙂 …however i do remember eating a ginger and chili crab in vietnam which was amazing!

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