Chef, Restaurateur, TV presenter, Author, Consultant, Surfer, Fisherman and Family Man.


Mexican Chilli Crab

I’ve had lots of requests for this recipe so I hope you all enjoy one of my favourite dishes from Mexican Fiesta.

To watch the video of me cooking this dish online click here: WATCH ON SBS FOOD


The Mexican term “a la diabla” literally means “to the devil”, and there should be something with a good kick of chilli to get you there. This recipe uses the heat of the habanero chilli along with the piquant flavour of guajillo chilli to make a rich paste that goes beautifully with shellfish. The avocado leaves impart a delicate and fragrant aniseed flavour.


6 blue swimmer crabs, cleaned and cut into 4 pieces or 1 x 1.5 kg mud crab, cleaned and cut into 6 pieces
100 ml vegetable oil
200 ml fish stock

Chilli paste
50 ml vegetable oil
½ white onion, minced
8 garlic cloves, chopped
2 avocado leaves (see Note)
6 black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
8 guajillo chillies, stemmed, seeded and lightly toasted
4 tomatillos, roasted
1 habanero chilli (seeds optional)
⅓ cup chopped coriander leaves
3 allspice
2 limes, juiced

chopped coriander
lime cheeks


Serves 4
Prep 45 minutes
Cook 25 minutes
Skill Mid

To make the chilli paste, heat a 25 cm frying pan over medium and add the vegetable oil. Add the onion and garlic. Fry gently for 3-4 minutes or until translucent. Remove and place in a blender. Wipe out frying pan with paper towel.

Add remaining chilli paste ingredients to the blender and blend for 2 minutes or until smooth.
Add another 50 ml of oil to the frying pan and heat over medium. Add the paste and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove from the pan and reserve.

Add 50 ml of oil to a 35 cm heavy-based saucepan or large wok. When oil starts smoking, carefully add the crab. Toss or stir until the colour changes, then add the paste and stock. Cover with a lid. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until sauce has thickened.

Remove from the heat and arrange the crab pieces on a platter. Garnish with coriander and lime cheeks.

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