Cuisine Fiend

chilli crab butter


chilli crab butter

I call it butter; you may call it pâté but it is better suited to thick crunchy toast rather than a thin, see-through slice of burnt brioche.

I don’t know what the deal is with brioche. I have nothing against it: buttered and jammed, served to me for breakfast aside croissants and pain au chocolat. But not with foi gras, pate, potted salmon or pork rillettes, and DEFINITELY not with a burger inside.

thai chilli crab butter

I have nothing against a marriage of sweet and savoury either – see my figs with blue cheese, pork with blueberries, salty peach crumble;  I’m a veritable matchmaker in that union. But the brioche becoming a go-to bread roll is a bit too much. And it doesn’t even toast well.

crab butter on toast

Back to crab: the flavours here are so good and simple it really doesn’t matter whether you use just white crab meat or mix the brown in: I generally prefer the white but I abhor waste so I’ll frugally scoop the brown meat out of the shell and add it in. Chillies, lemon juice and Thai basil – and make sure you use Thai basil not the Italian specimen; the flavour is distinctly different. If you can’t get hold of it, use coriander rather than sub the sweet basil.

By all means add more butter if you like. Have you ever heard anyone comment on too MUCH butter in a dish? Me neither.

chilli crab spread

chilli crab butter

Servings: a small bowl of the crab butterTime: at most 30 minutes


  • 1 dressed crab
  • 2 small Thai chilies
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • ½ bunch Thai basil, leaves stripped
  • salt and black pepper
  • 50g (3 tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened
  • lemon juice, to taste


If you’re dressing the crab yourself, first break off legs and claws, open the main shell and scoop out the brown meat with a spoon. If you want to use just the white meat, go ahead with the claws straight away.

Crack the claws with crab crackers or a wooden mallet and scrape out all the white meat; scoop out the meat from arm segments and collect in a large bowl; take care to remove all the shell fragments.

chillies and crab meat

De-seed and finely chop the chilies. Peel and chop the garlic clove. Shred the Thai basil leaves finely. Add it all to the bowl with the crab meat with a generous seasoning of salt and pepper and the butter. Give it a squeeze of lemon.

how to make crab butter

Whiz the mixture with a stick blender or in the food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust salt, pepper and lemon juice amounts. Scrape it into a container and chill.

Serve on toast, on baked potato or stirred through pasta.

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