Make a fresh Thai crab curry at home for a special occasion meal to remember

Seafood king, chef Matt Dean Pettit shares a dish inspired by his travels to Thailand.

Seafood king, chef Matt Dean Pettit shares a dish inspired by his travels to Thailand

(Credit: Ksenija Hotic)

This tasty Thai crab curry dish from Canadian seafood king Matt Dean Pettit is surprisingly easy to make — once you’ve cracked the crab legs open, of course! If you’ve never done it before, fear not, the instructions walk you through how to master the meal in your own kitchen, for a special occasion dinner to remember.

Phuket Thai Curry Crab

By Matt Dean Pettit

Visiting Thailand for the first time was a life-altering experience; it made me view the world in a completely different way. I thought the entire country was incredible, from the big city hustle of Bangkok to the beauty of the beaches on the southern islands. One of my most memorable experiences was learning to make this delicious centuries-old crab recipe. If you’re ever in Phuket, go visit my buddy Jon, who owns the Crab House, and tell him MDP sent you. You’ll be treated like family!


  • 1 large live Dungeness crab (about 1 lb)
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 can (400 mL) coconut milk, full-fat
  • 2 stalks Chinese celery, cut into large dice (found at Asian markets)
  • 1 red Thai chili
  • 1 bunch cilantro, leaves only, for garnish


Place the crab in the freezer for 20 minutes to put it into a catatonic state. Then remove the top portion of the shell from the crab by lifting it from the body section — it should come off easily. Use a good knife to chop the body portion into large pieces. As best you can, remove the crab meat from the body pieces and place the lump meat into a bowl, discarding all bits of shell. Crack the claws and legs by hitting them with the flat of the knife. Using your fingers or a pick, remove the crab meat from the claws and legs and add it to the bowl. Set the meat aside at room temperature, and discard the body and all shell pieces.

In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the rice. Cover the saucepan with a lid and turn down the heat to a simmer, allowing the rice to cook for 18 to 20 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

In a wok over low heat, warm the canola oil. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the soy sauce, sugar, and curry powder. Cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds to combine the flavours. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until light brown and fragrant. Add the crab meat and stir-fry for 3 to 5 minutes, or until cooked through. Pour in the chicken stock and mix well. Add the egg, stir well, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the egg is completely cooked.

Add the coconut milk, Chinese celery, and Thai chili. Stir well and then cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the coconut milk has slightly reduced and the mixture has taken on the look of a sauce — it should coat the back of a spoon.

Divide the curry between two serving bowls and garnish with cilantro. Serve with the rice.

Yield: Makes 2 servings

Excerpted from The Great Shellfish Cookbook: From Sea to Table More than 100 Recipes to Cook at Home by Matt Dean Pettit. Copyright © 2018 Matt Dean Pettit. Photography copyright © 2018 Ksenija Hotic. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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