Somboon Crab Mentality

This crab mentality is of yummy proportions. The one that goes well with a lot of steaming white rice.. This is one of the reasons I keep returning to Bangkok. And it is none other than Somboon.

My aunt, Tita Susie,  introduced me to Somboon 10 years ago in one of my visits to Bangkok. She took me to the original branch in downtown Bangkok. The place was busy, filled to the rafters! Very unassuming. From the outside, you will not raise your expectations up. After digging into my old photos, I found this photo at that exact moment when I fell in love with Somboon at first bite!


You step inside. And you see photos on the wall of the famous people who walked the halls of this institution of an eatery. The surroundings were not at all fancy. Not even close.

But you no longer mind that. Because what will catch your attention is the wonderful aroma of yumminess. At first I did not know where this was coming from. And then when Tita ordered, a plate of crab, swimming in an yellow orange sauce was in front of me.


The best things in life truly, more than meet the eye. This plate is as heavenly as it is messy. That sauce, you can pour over your rice, and you will be the happiest camper around! In all of Somboon’s 45 years in business, this dish is what set them apart.

Bangkok is a two hour flight from Manila. And when I feel that Somboon urge, it is sad to accept that I cannot just hop on a plane and eat that crab curry. Years forward, Somboon has put up several branches to cope with its ever growing clientele. But not far enough to reach Manila. I can’t deny there have been times, I had to deal with Somboon sepanx.

So this weekend, my brother in law Brian brought home fresh crabs from Masbate. Mind you, he got them at P120 ($2.50) per kilogram! *wow, right?* My sister and I joined in chorus, we want to have some of that Somboon Crab Curry for dinner!!!!!

Nothing beats the original, so they say. No one can claim that they have cracked the top secret recipe of Somboon. But then again, imitation is truly the best form of flattery. So to put our minds, and tummies, at ease, we should at least try, right?

We also had to keep in mind to use ingredients that we had readily available. So I tagged that as a mental note, while I was finding a recipe to follow. And so we found this from Lia’s Food Journey:

1 big crab (750 grams), cleaned and cut into quarters

2 T. cooking oil

1 head garlic, crushed

2 t. curry powder (we used ordinary curry powder here)

1 C. evaporated milk

1 T. roasted chili paste (for this, we used gochujang)

1 egg, beaten

2 T. oyster sauce

1 T fish sauce

1 T. brown sugar

1/4 t. white pepper

2 red chili, sliced

spring onions, chopped into 1 inch length

kinchay, chopped into 1 inch length

Brown the garlic in cooking oil, remove and set aside. Stir fry the crabs in the same oil, when it turns orange, add the curry powder and browned garlic.

In a bowl, mix the milk, chili paste and beaten egg. Pour into the pan and season with oyster sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar and white pepper. When the mixture is thick already, pour the greens and the chili and continue cooking for a few seconds. Transfer into a serving platter.

Keeping that mental note in mind, we used ordinary curry powder here. And for the chili paste, what we had in the pantry is Korean Gochujang. By the way, let me just say that gochujang just goes well with EVERYTHING! It should go well with our version of Somboon Crab Curry!

And it did!!!



That side dish was a substitute to Somboon’s take on kangkong  or morning glory. Chayote tops are healthy, dark, leavy vegetables. They are cheap! To top it all, they are excellent to go with this kind of seafood feast!

This side dish is easy to do. Stir fry with garlic, onions and a bit of ginger, mix in a fair amount of soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil. And serve piping hot…

Rice, rice, pretty please!! Enjoy this treat, as I did. Two thumbs and big toes up!

Until my next visit to Bangkok, and to Somboon, I have this recipe on bookmark when that sepanx bites me hard again 🙂




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