Crab Panang Curry

Jalapenos are the most popular chile peppers in the US. This is probably due to the availability and versatility of the chile. Jalapenos have a balanced combination of flavor and heat. The demand for these have caused breeders to develop a broad range of varieties.

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2 fresh crabs (about 4 lbs)
2 red jalapeno peppers, seeded, thinly sliced
2 cups coconut milk
3 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp palm sugar
10 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Panang chili paste (recipe below)
3 Tbsp canola oil, or any vegetable oil

For the Chili Paste:
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced cilantro roots
10 red jalapeno peppers, seeded
1/2 tsp white peppercorn
1 tsp minced fresh galangal (or ginger)
1/4 cup minced fresh lemongrass from white part only
5 fresh kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
Zest from 1 kaffir lime
2 shallot, minced
1 tsp shrimp paste
3 Tbsp dry roasted unsalted peanuts, finely ground
1 Tbsp fish sauce


Discard the main shell of the crabs including the grey gills and the soft insides. Cut the body into quarter, then crack the claws and the legs lightly with the back of a knife. Set aside. You can also check this article on how to prepare your crab before cooking.

Heat the oil in a large pan set over medium heat. Add Panang Chili paste, stir constantly until fragrant and the raw smell disappear. Add the crabs, thinly sliced red jalapeno pepper, fish sauce, palm sugar, and kaffir lime. Stir continuously to ensure that the crab coated nicely with spices. Add coconut milk, stir. Turn the heat to low, gently simmer, stirring often to prevent the coconut milk from separating, and to ensure even cooking. Cook until the crab is done, about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with simple steam Jasmine rice.

Panang Chili Paste: makes 1/2 cup

Using a large mortar and pestle, pound all ingredients to make a smooth paste. Or, use food processor to do the job, add a little water to keep the blade running. If not ready to use that day, transfer into a jar, and refrigerate. It should stay fresh up to a week.