Curry Crab Rundown


Rundown is a classic Caribbean recipe that involves cooking foods like crab, mackerel or lobster in coconut milk. (The word rundown refers to the simmering down of the coconut milk.) Bradford Thompson, who loves the whole crab he eats along Jamaica's southern coast, near the town of Black River, uses chunks of lump crabmeat in this spicy, rich coconut-curry stew. Curry, which is popular in Jamaica, was introduced there in the 17th century by East Indian slaves who were brought to the island (then an English colony) by the British. Slideshow:  More Crab Recipes 

Curry Crab Rundown
Photo: © John Kernick
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
45 mins


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger

  • 2 teaspoons curry powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 3 tomatoes—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon minced Scotch bonnet or habanero chile

  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (from two 14-ounce cans)

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 pound lump crabmeat

  • 3/4 cup chopped cilantro

  • Grilled naan and hot sauce, for serving


  1. In a deep, medium skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, turmeric and allspice and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, Scotch bonnet and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and water and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced by one-third, about 15 minutes.

  2. Stir the crab into the sauce and cook just until heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve with grilled naan and hot sauce.

Suggested Pairing

Though this Jamaican curry dish is somewhat spicy, it gets a lot of richness from coconut milk and sweet crabmeat. It needs a robust white wine with lots of flavor and richness as a partner—the sort of wine that France's Alsace region is known for, particularly Alsace Pinot Gris.

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