1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar
300g (10.5 oz) crab meat
1 cup betel leaves, Thai basil leaves or Italian basil leaves*
cooked vermicelli noodles, to serve
15 dried birds’ eye chillies
2 coriander (cilantro) roots
2 stalks lemongrass
4cm (1.5in) piece galangal, peeled and roughly chopped
4cm (1.5in) piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
2 small red Asian shallots, roughly chopped
2 makrut lime leaves, destemmed and roughly chopped
1 tsp shrimp paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp turmeric
For the curry paste, soak the chillies in hot water for 15 minutes. Drain (reserve the soaking liquid) and place the chillies into the bowl of a food processor. Add all the remaining curry paste ingredients except the turmeric. Blend until smooth (add 1-2 tablespoons of the chilli soaking liquid if necessary to get a smooth blend). Transfer the paste to a bowl and stir through the turmeric.
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add half the curry paste (keep the other half in the freezer to use another time). Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes to allow the aromatics to soften and mellow. Then add the coconut milk, ½ cup water, fish sauce and palm sugar. Simmer for 2 minutes to allow the palm sugar to dissolve. Stir through the crab meat and simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more fish sauce and/or palm sugar if needed. Stir through the betel or basil leaves.
Serve alongside vermicelli noodles.
– Traditionally it’s customary to use betel leaves but I often use Thai basil or even Italian basil to get a similar herbaceous flavour.
-Frozen curry paste will last up to 6 months in the freezer. Thaw overnight before using.
-Use less curry paste for a milder curry.