This recipe is published in partnership with Small Luxury Hotels of the World who have recently published The Small Luxury Cookbook.

A grey day deserves a bright golden curry. A sunny day too. This Thai Yellow Crab Curry (Gang Pu Bai Cha Plu) is a joy and it is so speedy to make.

I have many excellent memories of cooking with chefs in hotels on my travels. Uncovering the secrets to their kitchens in Langkawi, Borneo, China and Hong Kong, just a few among many far flung places. The kitchen in a hotel is as key to my decision to stay there as the quality of the sheets and the service. I especially love a Small Luxury Hotel, they are always characterful and unique, and you can get to know everyone over the course of your stay. 

Small Luxury Hotels of the World recently published a collection of handpicked recipes from over 140 of their hotels in the The Small Luxury Cookbook. They are a diverse collection of over 500 hotels in more than 80 countries around the world. The resulting recipe collection showcases an exciting and diverse selection of recipes. This is the third volume of the collection and is focussed entirely around main courses. It takes you by the hand through the restaurant kitchens.

Travel the world from your kitchen

From a decadent veal in a mushroom cream sauce with rosti in Gstaad to gorgeous slow cooked Greek octopus with aubergine miso, tomato tartare and peppermint air. You can also try a deeply flavoured and luxurious wagyu beef rendang to a sublime looking carnaroli risotto with turmeric, baby squid and ‘nduja. It was difficult to choose just one to share with you here but once I saw the Gang Pu Bai Cha Plu (crab meat yellow curry) from Twinpalms in Phuket, Thailand, I couldn’t look any further. I had to make it.

Happily the dish is very straight forward and fast. The work is in the paste and you can make your own paste of course (as they would in Twinpalms) but there is no shame in using a high quality paste for speed on days that demand it, and I did here, as suggested by the recipe. There was a time when I would only use a paste that I had made myself. I am still that cook on most days but there are many very good curry pastes available to us now too (Maesri and Mar Ploy are reliable brands, both easily sourced online and in Asian food shops).

I used white crab meat from my local fishmonger, if you want a deeper more crabby flavour mix in some brown. The shrimp paste gives this depth and umami too. Don’t be put of by it’s intense smell, a little goes a long way and makes a huge difference in Thai cooking. The wild betel leaf may be tricky to source but I found it both in Indian shops in Tooting and in Chinatown. I think some Thai basil would be delicious with this instead, and you can never go wrong with coriander. 

For more on the book and to buy a copy, visit their website The Small Luxury Cookbook.

Thai Yellow Crab Curry
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Thai Yellow Crab Curry


  • 300g crab meat
  • 3 tbsp yellow curry powder or paste
  • 1 tbsp shrimp paste
  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • wild betel leaf, sliced
  • rice noodles
  • red chilli, finely chopped


  • Heat the coconut milk with yellow curry, shrimp paste and 400ml of water over a low heat, stirring until fragrant. Season with the fish sauce, palm sugar, and salt.
  • Add the crab meat and wild betel leaf, stirring continuously until cooked. Serve with rice noodles, cooked in boiling water until soft and translucent. Top the dish with the chopped chilli.



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