For the best results, use the freshest seafood you can afford for this recipe. It is served with two sauces - both have lime juice and chilli, but one is made with rich, sweet coconut cream, and the other with seawater (though at home, you can used salted water).






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (73 votes)


  • 1 large green coconut crab, about 1.5 kg, cleaned 
  • 1 litre 2nd extract coconut milk (see Note) 
  • 6 small green chillies, coarsely chopped 
  • 2 limes, juiced 
  • salt, to taste 
  • 2 parrotfish or other reef fish, about 2 kg each, gutted and scaled 
  • 10 small land crabs, about 100 g each 
  • 2 kg large sea snails 
  • boiled cassava, to serve 

Chilli and lime sauce

  • 2 limes, juiced 
  • 150 ml seawater, or salted water 
  • 3 small red or green chillies, finely chopped 

Coconut, chilli and lime sauce

  • 150 ml coconut cream 
  • 1 lime, juiced 
  • 3 small red chillies, finely chopped

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


To make the sauces, combine all the ingredients in separate bowls and set aside.

Place the coconut crab in a large saucepan with the second extract of coconut milk, chillies, lime juice and a pinch of salt and cook over high heat until the mixture comes to the boil. Cover and cook for 9 minutes, then, using tongs and a slotted spoon, remove the crab and set aside. Add the parrotfish and simmer over medium heat for 12 minutes, or until just cooked through.

Meanwhile, drop the land crabs into a large saucepan of boiling salted water over high heat. Once the water returns to the boil, cook for 6 minutes, then drain.

Cook the sea snails on a rack over an open fire for 4 minutes.

To serve, break the coconut crab into pieces and crack the claws, then do the same with the smaller land crabs. Serve the crab, fish and sea snails on a large platter with both sauces to the side, and the boiled cassava. You can serve some of the cooking broth to dip the cassava into if you like. 


• To make second extract of coconut milk, crack a coconut with the back of a large cleaver. Reserve the watery liquid as it drains out, then scrape out the white flesh. Remove the brown membrane, then grate the flesh with a hand-grater or in a food processor. Place the grated flesh and the reserved coconut water in a blender and, using the pulse action, process until everything is well combined and the flesh is soft. Line a sieve with muslin and place it over a bowl. Pour in the blended coconut, then gather the sides of the muslin and squeeze over a bowl to extract as much liquid as possible from the flesh. This is known as the first extraction of coconut milk (or coconut cream). For the second extract, repeat the process using the coconut flesh that has already been blended and sieved once. Use filtered water if coconut water is not available.