Creamy Coconut Crab Curry

Crab Curry 3

Back in the day, crab was pretty much Christmas or special occasion-only fare, with the preferred vehicle being a rich and cheesy crab dip.

But now that I’ve found an inexpensive and reliable source for good quality canned crab, I’ve been sneaking it into all sorts of dishes that call for white fish or even shrimp. 

For the sake of full disclosure, I should mention that I have no idea whether this could be considered an authentic Burmese crab curry or not.   I started with a Burmese fish curry recipe, swapped in some crab for the fish, added some coconut milk, and added in some strips of green bell pepper for color and flavor.

Authentic or not, I totally fell for this curry with large chunks of tender crab in a tomato and coconut-based sauce.  It’s fancy-pants enough for a special dinner, but quick and easy enough for a weeknight meal.  My favorite kind of recipe.

Crab Curry


Creamy Coconut Crab Curry

Yield: 4-6 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


* 1 pound crab meat (frozen or refrigerated canned crab works great)
* 1/4 teaspoon paprika
* 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, divided
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
* 2 Tablespoons regular or shallot-infused oil
* 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 1-1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1 cup canned diced tomatoes in their juice
* 1 green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
* 1 cup canned coconut milk
* 2/3 cup water
* 1 Jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
* 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
* chopped cilantro leaves


In a medium bowl combine the crab, paprika, 1/8 teaspoon of the turmeric, salt, and fish sauce and set aside.

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to soften. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the cayenne pepper and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric and stir to mix.

Add the tomatoes and cook for approximately 4-5 minutes, using a long wooden spoon to break up the pieces of tomato. Add the green bell pepper and continue to cook until the pepper has softened slightly.

Add the marinated crab and any of the accumulated juices, the coconut milk, water and Jalapeno chile pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened and the flavors have melded a bit. Stir in the lemon juice.

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve hot.

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6 Responses to “Creamy Coconut Crab Curry”

  1. #
    Deb — March 25, 2013 at 4:04 am

    This looks wonderful! So, what brand of canned crab do you use?


    • Cate — March 25th, 2013 @ 7:21 am

      Thanks Deb! As for the crab, I can’t remember except that it was claw meat. Next time I’m at the fish market I’ll check for the name and update this :)


  2. #
    jess — May 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Hello fellow gluten-avoider! Should the coconut milk be of the sweetened or unsweetened variety? Thanks and love your site! It makes this ballerina hungry!


    • Cate — May 24th, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

      Hi Jess- definitely use the unsweetened stuff from a can. Thanks for asking :)


  3. #
    Kristen — September 13, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    The same friend who had me make your Ethiopian cabbage dish (which we still love and have made 4 times now) made this quite a while ago and said it was “so rich and delicious.” We live in Maryland so good, fresh crab meat is easy to come by (de-shelled/whathaveyou) but I still never buy it. I was craving a curry and found this recipe in my bookmarks and it was SO good! The smell in the kitchen tonight, with a fall breeze flowing through, was amazing. Husband loved it. Dog wished she could have had some. ;) Can’t wait to make this for friends later! Served it over rice and didn’t change a thing! Great recipe.


    • Cate — September 14th, 2013 @ 10:54 am

      So glad you liked it Kristen! And I’m a bit jealous of your access to crab! I usually resort to using the frozen stuff!


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