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Malaysian Butter Crabs Recipe 奶油蟹

Sunday, August 21, 2011 | Labels: , , |

Cook butter, fresh curry leaves and bird's eye chilli peppers together - the result? An explosively flavourful dish that is aromatic, spicy yet wildly comforting and this is the dish I am presenting today.  'Explosively flavourful' is really not an overstatement for this dish at least in my opinion, this is a truly representative Malaysian dish that is the unique culmination of the culinary methods from the 3 main races living in Malaysia, the Chinese, Malays and Indians.  I may have to add too that the use of butter is probably an early influence from the British that occupied Malaysia before we gained independence in 1957.  Anyhow, origins aside, I am pretty confident that you will love the flavours in this dish - this method of cooking is famously used for cooking prawns but it produces equally fantastic results if you use crab as well.  The version I am presenting today is the creamier version where milk is used and the egg is added towards the end of cooking, for the drier version with the little fried egg yolk bits, please refer to my butter prawns post.


Fresh curry leaves grow in abundance in Malaysia and as their name would imply, these aromatic leaves are used in many curries.  The fragrance of these leaves is really irreplaceable and although many readers have asked me if I could provide an 'easier' substitute, the unfortunate answer is a no as without curry leaves, Malaysian butter prawns/ crabs will no longer be such.  It will definitely be more than worth your while to hunt these leaves down and you can usually find them in most ethnic Indian grocery stores.  In addition, I have to stress on fresh as dried curry leaves have lost most of the aroma we need in this dish.  Apart from the curry leaves, the other ingredients are extremely easy to find and this is really a to-die-for seafood dish that you have to try at least once.


Notes from Jen: It is preferable to get female crabs as they are fleshier. 
Serving suggestion: with steamed rice

Serves 4


4 fresh crabs, cleaned and cut up (you can get the fishmonger to do this)
Enough corn flour to dust the crabs before deep-frying
1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp cooking oil
1 stalk curry leaves, discard stem and rinsed
4 tbsps unsalted butter (if you use salted, remember to adjust the level of salt in the recipe as required)
3 bird's eye chilli peppers, sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed lightly
1/2 cup milk
1 egg


Firstly, dust the crabs with the corn flour and salt. 

Heat up enough oil to shallow or deep-fry the crabs.  Once hot, place the pieces of crabs into the oil and fry till about half-cooked.  Remove and drain, set aside.  Discard oil and clean the wok quickly.

Heat the wok until almost smoking again.  Turn heat to low and add 1 tbsp of oil.  Swirl to coat.  Add the garlic, curry leaves and chilli peppers.  Fry till aromatic and add the butter.  Stir fry for another 30 seconds or until butter is mostly melted.  Add in the crabs from earlier and stir well to coat.  Turn heat to high and add the milk. 

Bring to a boil and turn heat to medium.  Cover and allow to simmer for about 3-5 minutes.  Remove cover and turn heat up again.  The milk should have evaporated a little already and once you see the milk mixture reduces again, add in the beaten egg and immediately fry briskly to coat the mixture to the crabs.  Once you add the egg, the mixture will dry up very quickly and the egg acts as the 'glue' to coat the crabs with the butter sauce.

Remove from wok and serve immediately. 



Smallkucing said...

yummmmmmmmy...this i LOVE

Jeannie said...

This looks so good! One of my most favorite seafood cooked my favorite style:D

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

haha thanks!

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

thanks Jeannie! :)

Indonesia Eats said...

Great recipe! Another way to cook the crabs

edith said...

my gal was just mentioning about eating crabs yesterday.... oh dear oh dear, now seeing yours, I have no more excuses not to bring her, perhaps I will show her this to satisfy her appetite. hehehe

BTW, if you have the time, do join me in this Heritage Food Trail event.

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...


Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

thanks Edith! Will def check it out

Belly Good Cooking said...

I have yet to try cooking crabs but my hometown ( Seremban ) is famous for crab dishes. My siblings and I are crab lovers and we will always order 3 to 4 kgs of crabs for dinner in restaurants and it's really finger licking good..

Tastes of Home (Jen) said...

Oh really? hah! Yeah, I remember there is plenty of good food in crabs are quite easy, I just hate the chopping part, luckily I always get the fishmongers to do that part.

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

YUM I love crab.  Thoroughly just enjoyed some chili crab in Singapore too.

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