Okay so I have to be completely honest here, I am petrified of preparing crabs. My father has always taken care of the purchasing, killing and cleaning of the crabs. They have always scared me. In fact I remember having a nightmare as a child of a crab chasing me down the stairs at my childhood home. (if my cousin Ameeta is reading this YOU KNOW!) Ha, I know it sounds crazy but I am not exaggerating. So yes, truth be told my dad did clean the crabs for me for this recipe and probably will for as long as he can! lol.
However, if you are like me and this may be the first time you are cleaning a crab, I’ve researched that a humane way of killing crabs is to put them in the freezer for about two hours, then when you take them out you can remove their legs. Remove their top shell and clean out the insides.
Whenever you are making crabs you should always cook the crab within 1 or 2 days of purchasing the crab, while the meat is at its freshest. In the past we’ve tried to freeze crab but the meat becomes hard to get out of the shell and just not as juicy as when it is cooked fresh.
This has always been a meal that brings our family together. As kids I remember we would spread newspaper (for the debris) all over the table (inside or outside) and this was a meal meant to be messy and eaten with your hands. We’d have a bowl set for the shells and crab leg crackers on the table. Here in New England we use Rock Crabs which have a very thick, hard shell and a cracker is necessary. (my dad would always first attempt using his teeth before resorting to a cracker)
You will see that I don’t have many recipe photos here. This is for a few reasons, 1. crab cooks pretty fast once you get started and 2. before I could stage photos for the perfect shot, everyone’s mouths were drooling and had no patience for photos. I will try to grab more photos next time!
Fiji Crab Curry with Coconut Milk
The combination of masala and coconut milk dance together to create a beautifully tasty crab curry.
Clean uncooked crab in a clean kitchen sink. Remove legs, shell and clean out. (My father cleans them right from the bag to the sink)
Another way to clean crabs are to place the crab in the freezer for 2 hours or until it stops moving. Remove the legs. Remove the top of the shell and clean out the insides with your fingers.
Optional: If using tamaring (imli) soak 1 teaspoon imli in hot water for 30 minutes or while you prepare the rest of the meal. You only need enough water to cover the piece of tamarind (imli).
Take all the ingredients for the wet mixture and blend with water in a blend until you have a smooth puree.
Crabs are not flexible or forgiving in size, so be sure to use a pot big enough to fit all the crabs you have. Heat oil in a large pot for 1-2 minutes.
Add in seed mixture. Once you hear the popping of the seeds or crackle, add in your onions and let sauté for about two to three minutes until softened. The heat on the stove should be on medium-high heat. You don't want the onions to burn.
Pour in wet mixture and stir. Let fry for an additional minute.
Next, add in turmeric and curry powders. Mix well and let fry for one - two minutes.
Next add in diced tomatoes, mix well and cover the pot for about three minutes.
Once all the flavors are combined, its time to get your crabs into the pot, Mix crabs well so that all of the sauce coats each piece of crab. Continue mixing, you will see as the crabs begin to cook they will start to turn a shade of red.
Once the crabs are a nice red color, add in salt, mix together and taste the sauce. Add more salt if needed. Add in curry leaves. Cover with lid and let the crabs simmer for about 10 minutes.
At this time add in one can of coconut milk, and I use the same can to add in water. If you don't have coconut milk you can just add the water in this case. I use the term "more or less" here because depending if you want the curry with a lot or little gravy your liquid amount in this step will vary. Less liquid will make it more of a crab fry than a (surwa) sauce.
Optional: If you are choosing to use tamarind (imli) you would break up the tamarind in the water already in the bowl. Then add the dissolved tamarind and water into the pot.
Simmer for a few minutes to combine all of the flavors. Garnish with cilantro and turn off heat.