Pan-roasted painted crayfish and fried anchovies

Pan-roasted painted crayfish and fried anchovies

My Feast
Chris Chen

If you can’t find painted crayfish, the Tasmanian ones are a great substitute but you can use any crayfish or lobsters in this dish. I cooked this for the master boatbuilders of Bira in south-east Sulawesi, Indonesia. The boats, called phinisi, have been hand-built out of teak for centuries. They are an awe-inspiring thing to see. When I first saw these huge boats in the boat yard I thought to myself that this could have been where the story of Noah’s Ark came from. The Bugis sailors from these parts set sail into the wind, their holds full of cloves and nutmeg destined for Europe, where the spices were more valuable than gold.


Quantity Ingredient
2 live painted crayfish
100ml vegetable oil
250ml water
Cucumber sambal, to serve

Chilli and lime salt

Quantity Ingredient
6 red and green bird’s eye chillies
1 tablespoon sea salt
lime juice, squeezed

Fried anchovies

Quantity Ingredient
5cm turmeric, sliced
4 small green chillies, sliced
5cm ginger, grated
3 spring onions, thinly sliced, (white part only)
1 teaspoon salt
60ml vegetable oil
200g fresh anchovies, scaled and cleaned
750ml grapeseed or canola oil


  1. To make the fried anchovies, combine the turmeric, chilli, ginger, spring onion, salt and vegetable oil in a shallow dish and mix well. Add the anchovies, turn to coat and leave for 30 minutes. When ready to serve, heat the grapeseed oil in a small wok over medium heat and fry the anchovies for 4 minutes or until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Set aside.
  2. To kill the crayfish, place them in a large bucket of iced water and leave for 15 minutes, then drain. Halve lengthways using a cleaver or large knife. Clean out the heads, but do not wash in cold water. Alternatively, ask your fishmonger to do this for you, but only if you live close by and have an ice box to transport the lobsters home and plan to cook them immediately.
  3. To make the chilli and lime salt, using a mortar and pestle, grind the chilli and salt together until a paste, then stir in the lime juice.
  4. When you’re ready to cook the crayfish, rub some of the chilli and lime salt all over the flesh. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over high heat, add the crayfish and cook for 4 minutes or until light golden, but not crisp. Turn the crayfish over, add the water, cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until just cooked.
  5. To serve, place the crayfish in the centre of a serving platter and arrange the fried anchovies alongside. Serve with the cucumber sambal and any remaining chilli and lime salt.
My Sri Lanka
Island Feast
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