Marmite crab

Amazingly, Marmite has remained in the cuisine of Malaysia, long after the British left. One memorable night in Kuala Lumpur I found Marmite Crab on the menu. Needless to say I ordered it without even considering anything else.

It was very good. Not great, but pretty interesting and memorable nonetheless. The trick with cooking with Marmite is to dilute it heavily.


  • Crab
  • Flour
  • Rice or noodles

Ingredients for Marmite sauce

To make a Marmite sauce suitable for dressing fried crab, use the following proportions:

  • 20 parts water
  • 2 parts Marmite
  • 2 parts Maggi seasoning*
  • 3 parts tomato sauce
  • 3 parts sugar (preferably palm sugar if you can find it)

Hopefully you should be able to convert the above into teaspoons or tablespoons without much mental gymnastics. Mix this up in a jug or a bowl. Don’t worry if the sugar doesn’t dissolve at first – this will happen in the next step.


Cut and fry the crab meat in whichever way you prefer (dredged in flour and then deep fried works well). Drain the meat and pat the oil off the crab meat with a paper towel and then add to a pan/wok and add the sauce. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes until you can feel the sauce beginning to get sticky.

Serve over rice or noodles.

It is surprising that it works but it does because the light freshness of the crab meat is overlayed with cloying savoury notes: the umami of the Maggi,the sweetness of the palm sugar, the salty strength of the Marmite lurking beneath it all threatening to burst out with its mighty flavours, but remaining restrained.

My mouth is watering just remembering that Malaysian Marmite meal all those years ago.

*This sauce is a little like liquid Marmite without the salt, and is pure umami in a bottle. It can be found at most Asian food shops and even some Italian supermarkets. If you can, try to buy the stuff made in Thailand, which is made from soya rather than wheat and has a yellow cap rather than a red one, as it has a milder and more pleasant flavour.

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