Crab and young coconut ginataan

Crab and young coconut ginataan

Ginataang alimasag at buko

7000 Islands
Jana Liebenstein

One of the most resounding memories I have of the Philippines is of regularly eating crab; the expensive crustacean is a rare treat in Australia. My cousins occasionally enjoy it for breakfast when an affordable batch of live crabs arrives home from the morning market or is received as a gift. The bright orange shells splash colour across the table and we prise the sweet crabmeat from within.

Dinner or dinner-party dish, it depends on the price of crabs near you. Either way, it’s special. It’s also incredibly quick to prepare. If you prefer, ask your fishmonger to clean the crab for you.


Quantity Ingredient
4 raw blue swimmer crabs
80ml vegetable oil
10cm piece ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 small vine-ripened tomato, roughly chopped
3 lemongrass stems, bruised, white part only
2 long green chillies, halved lengthwise and seeded
250ml vegetable stock
250ml coconut milk
250ml coconut cream
2 young coconuts
steamed rice, to serve


  1. To prepare each crab, lift the triangular tail flap on the underside of the body and gently but firmly pull down to release the top shell. Remove and discard the flap, reserving the top shell. Remove and discard the spongy, finger-like gills, then replace the shell. Cut the body in half. Using a nutcracker or the blunt edge of a large knife, crack the large claws.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger and cook for 1 minute, stirring until fragrant. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, then add the tomato and cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring and pressing until the tomato starts to break down.
  3. Add the lemongrass, chillies, stock and coconut milk to the pan, season with freshly cracked black pepper, then bring to a simmer over medium–high heat. Add the crab, reduce the heat to medium, and continue to cook for a further 8–10 minutes, turning over the crab pieces halfway — the crab is cooked when the shell changes colour and the meat turns white. Using tongs, remove the crab pieces to a serving bowl.
  4. Add the coconut cream and young coconut meat to the pan, increase the heat to medium–high, and cook for 1–2 minutes, stirring often, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat, discard the lemongrass and chillies, if desired, and pour over the crab. Serve with steamed rice.

What is it?

  • Ginataan (also guinataan), literally ‘done in coconut milk’, refers to food, typically stew-like dishes, cooked in coconut cream or milk (gata). The technique and name is used in both sweet and savoury dishes, which form a large subset of Filipino cuisine. Popular examples include ginataang manok, ginataang kalabasa at sitaw (squash and snake beans in coconut milk) and ginataang mais (corn and sweet coconut milk sauce).
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again