Recipe Ketam Masak Lemak

Crab cook with coconut milk tastes delicious and authentic when we eat with freshly cooked rice especially during lunch.

The gravy for this dish is using coconut milk as the main ingredient. In Malay cooking, Ketam Masak Lemak has two versions: sweet and hot. 

Ketam Masak Lemak
Ketam Masak Lemak.

Naturally, the crabs turn the dish into a refreshing sweet taste with creamy gravy. 

However, if you want to go for the latter flavour, you may add pounded bird’s eye chilli into the gravy and it will turn into another classic recipe called Ketam Masak Lemak Cili Api (Crabs Cook With Coconut Milk and Birds Eye Chilli). 

Ingredients for Ketam Masak Lemak 

The main ingredients to make the crab taste better are coconut milk, lemongrass, turmeric leaf and turmeric powder. 

Coconut Milk 

It has to be added as the last step before we turn off the stove. When you add coconut milk, quickly change the heat from medium to low heat. Let it boil for 2 minutes and turn off the stove. 

This is because when we cooked the coconut milk for a longer period it will have two separate layers of water and oil. 

In Malay, we called it “pecah minyak”. 

This is because the coconut milk texture tends to break, forming a layer of oil at the top and water at the bottom. 


Pound the lemongrass using mortar. The juice from lemongrass will enhance the aroma of the cuisine. 

Turmeric leaf and powder 

Turmeric leaf is added to give it a fragrance smell and enhance the colour of the cuisine. I even eat the turmeric leaves together with rice and gravy as it does not have a bitter taste. 

While turmeric powder gives a natural yellow colour to the gravy. 

Ketam Masak Lemak 

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Serving size : 3 people 


  • 400g crabs (clean) 
  • 1 lemongrass
  • 4 red onion  (pound) 
  • 1 garlic (pound) 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder 
  • 250ml water 
  • 1 red chilli (slice) 
  • 1 turmeric leaves 
  • 200ml of coconut milk 


Add crab, lemongrass, red onion, garlic, salt, turmeric powder, and water in a small pot. 

Turn on the stove and turn into medium heat.

Let it simmer and cook for 5 minutes. 

Add red chilli and turmeric leaves and cook for another two minutes.

Finally, add the coconut milk and let it boil with low heat. Cook for an additional two minutes. 

How to serve 

Ketam Masak Lemak suitable to be eaten with hot rice either during lunch or dinner. Eating this once in a while with family members does bring back the old memories. 

We usually prepared mortar and pestle to eat crabs in order to break the shell and eat the flesh.

The dish is easy to prepare but to clean the crab requires a lot of time and effort. The only reason I prepare Ketam Masak Lemak is when there is a  request coming from my family members.

My youngest son loves it so much that he will request me to make one whenever he returns for vacation. 

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