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Black Pepper Crab Recipe


Recipe: Black Pepper Crab

(Source: Authentic Recipes from Malaysia)

This is a real Malaysian dish, starting with mud crabs and Chinese seasonings, adding Indian black pepper and curry leaves, enriching the flavor with butter and then tossing in Malay bird’s-eye chilies for a knock-out result.


3 fresh mud crabs (about 1 lb each)
Oil for deep frying
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon salted soya beans, mashed
2 tablespoons dried prawns, roasted and ground
2 tablespoons black pepper, ground coarsely
1/2 cup curry leaves
10 red or green bird’s-eye chilies, chopped
2 tablespoons black soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce


Clean the crabs and cut in half, discarding the spongy “dead man’s fingers.” Smash the claws with a cleaver to allow the seasonings in. Deep fry the crab until half-cooked, drain and set aside.
Heat a wok, melt butter and put in shallots, garlic, salted soy beans, dried prawns, black pepper, curry leaves and chilies. Saute till fragrant, then add crab and the remaining ingredients. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the crab is done.

Cook’s Note:

I used stone crab for this recipe because I just love the big, juicy, and succulent claws of stone crabs, and this back pepper crab recipe is perfect for those claws!

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35 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Lydia

    I remember tasting this on one of our first nights in KL. It was a spectacular riot of taste, and your wonderful photo brings it all back to me.

  2. tigerfish

    Singapore also got black pepper crabs leh…but good ones may not be as easy to find as in M’ysia. I know one super yummy one – next time you come Singapore (when I’m there), I’ll bring you there. :D
    Where you get the stone crabs?

    I don’t mind having this additional dish before the 3rd red bean paste dessert :p

  3. Claude-Olivier

    I should buy this book…or not, because your blog is here !!! With so nice picture, sound that it is even better ;-) Just amazing pictures, as always, I’m a fan of this technique !!!! Bravo ! cheers

  4. Tummythoz

    Err.. don’t think I’ve eaten this before. *shy*
    Looks so yummylicious. Sadly I oni know how to eat – do not know how to prepare these crustaceans.

  5. christine

    See this is why I love your blog so much. The dishes you turn out are simply amazing. And the photos, they make my tummy growl! :)

  6. Cynthia

    I am heading to Guyana soon where one can get fresh, live crabs! Thanks for this dish, definitely a must try.

  7. Marvin

    Can regular ol’ blue crabs be substituted for this? Is there much of a flavor difference with mud crabs and other crabs you can find in markets?

  8. Rasa Malaysia

    Lydia – I am glad that you have tasted this dish before…now you can prepare it at home. :)

    Joey – LOL. Recipe posted.

    Babe – yes, very sedap.

    Pablo – I also prefer the female version, but this male had giant claws. ;P

    Tiga – that’s because Singaporean food is basically Malaysian food mah. :P Eeerrr, I think you will disagree, LOL, but I think it’s true since we share similar roots. Also, I heard a lot of chefs in Singapore are actually from Malaysia, since Singaporeans are all very educated and do not want to be chefs? I got the stone crab from 99 Ranch.

    Steamy – of course, anytime.

    Meiyen – me too. My favorite.

    Claude – you should buy the book, it’s really worth it, or you can wait for me when I publish my own cookbook…muahahhaha.

    Tummy – sure? Aiyo, next time you must try…maybe Tambun has it, I am sure they have.

    Christine – thanks…you are too sweet. :)

    Orchidea – yes, very good, plus in Singapore you can get huge Sri Lanka crabs which Malaysia don’t import, I don’t know why?!

    For the love of food – have you tried this before while in Malaysia? I am sure you did.

    Nate 2.0 – yes, dungenness works just fine.

    Cynthia – yes, a must-try. Wow, have a great trip to Guyana. :)

    Marvin – blue crab works too, but bigger crabs work better. The thing about blue crab is that it’s sweet, but not much meat. Different crab tends to taste different, but not too much. Dungenness crab will work perfectly fine for this recipe.

    Cooking Ninja – hehe, where is the tissue paper?

    East Meets West – cool. It’s a wonderful cookbook.

    Brilynn – oooh, you will have to try this…really.

  9. WokandSpoon

    I looove crab but I’m always too lazy to cook it – so much work! Your black pepper crab has inspired me to cook crab again…only hmm…I don’t know if I’ll be able to find crab in Frankfurt! I can’t see Germans eating crab!

  10. Tango

    Wow! I’m no great cook – but the pix sure inspired me to give this recipe a try….

    I’ve also emailed you to ask about a recipe for ‘Fried Soft-Shell Crabs with Salted Egg Yolks’.

    I’m aka ‘Helen Tang’

    Many thanz……

  11. Green Chillies

    I remember having this dish on my last trip to singapore. And I absolutely loved it. I have been searching for this recipe in the internet for sometime now. Cant wait to try this one!!!!!

    Many Thanks!

  12. Maria

    That black pepper crab looks yummy. I like the idea of using butter and curry leaves for this black pepper crab recipe.

  13. Dan

    Probably some dumb questions, but here goes:

    1. How do you kill the crabs before cleaning? Normally I boil crabs, but I assume you don’t do that if you’re going to deep fry them.

    2. How do you keep the crabs from popping when you deep fry since they will be quite watery? Just use a spatter screen? Any special advice for deep frying crabs?

    Looks fantastic! I catch a lot of dungeness in the summer, so very much looking forward to making this for a big outdoor crab fest. Thanks so much.

    • Dan – my market kill the crab for me. If you don’t know, try to Google and find out how to chop it up. You should pat the crab dry with paper towels before frying.

  14. This looks really interesting to try to make at home. I was wondering where the best place to buy crab in KL is? I’ve never attempted to make it at home and it’s not like I know where to go hunting! Haha. If you could get back to me on my email address, that would be awesome. I was also wondering where the best place to start is concerning learning Malaysian cuisine.

  15. Rowan

    Black Pepper Crab Recipe looks amazing. How do I deep fry the crab, and for how long, in the first part? I don’t have a deep fryer, so do I just shallow fry in half an inch of oil? Five minutes? Thanks

  16. Nik Linda

    Thanks so much for the recipe. I’ve tried twice and it was super delicious. You can opt to steam the crab first, which I did for my second cooking. Steam it for about 5-10 minutes and you’re done!

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