Tamarind crab

Luke Nguyens tamarind crab is stir fried with garlic, shallots and peppercorns to make a fragrant dish
By Luke Nguyen
Tamarind crab
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes plus more to make tamarind water
  • Effort: medium


For the tamarind paste

  • 125 ml tamarind water, (see cook's tip)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp liquid palm sugar, or shaved palm sugar

For the crab

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 red Asian shallots
  • ½ onions, cut into thick wedges
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns, or kampot peppercorns
  • 2 medium blue swimmer crab, cleaned and quartered
  • 1 handfuls Asian basil (Thai basil), or Khymer basil
  • 1 long red chilli, finely sliced

Tips and Suggestions

To make tamarind water, soak 100g tamarind pulp in 400ml boiling water. Break it up a little with a whisk, then leave until cool enough to handle. Using your hands, break the mixture into a thick paste. Pass the mixture through a sieve. You should get 375ml tamarind water.

Ask your fishmonger to clean and quarter your crabs for you.


1. For the tamarind sauce: Combine the tamarind sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl with a pinch of sea salt. Mix well, then set aside.

2. For the crab: Add the vegetable oil, garlic, shallot and onion to a hot wok. Stir fry over high heat for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the peppercorns and crab and toss for 7 minutes.

3. Add the tamarind sauce and cook for a further minute, or until the crab pieces are cooked through. Add the basil and chilli, toss once and serve, garnished with more basil and chilli if desired.

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