Singapore Chilli Crab – arguably one of our greatest culinary inventions, it came into being in the mid 50’s when a pushcart owner decided to add some ketchup to the crabs he and his wife were selling. The rest as they say….
Consistently making the world’s top 50 list of foods to try, it is, apparently, the first dish requested by celebrities when they set foot in Singapore, especially the celebrity chefs – that, in itself, is a worthy testament!
Once you have all the ingredients ready, it’s a very quick process.
Now you have to get fresh, uncooked crabs for this, mud crabs are the perfect type. If you don’t fancy battling the crabs, fresh crab meat would be a great alternative.
Growing up in Singapore, one of my favourite treats was heading out to the East Coast Park Seafood Centre. It used to be the place to go for seafood and the star of the show was always the Singapore Chilli Crab. But one never stopped there. A typical order would consist of the chilli crab, a mixed vegetable soup called chap chye, crispy baby squid and kangkung belacan, all served with plain boiled rice. At least these were the dishes I almost always had. Don’t panic, it wasn’t all for me! As with all Asian meals, everyone helps himself to a little bit of everything.
Specialist Ingredients for making the Singapore Chilli Crab
This is salted, fermented soy beans. Click here to read more and for substitutes.
A souring agent, used in so many cuisines around the world. Click here to read more and for substitutes.
And if you fancy a slightly different kettle of fish, or lobster, you can always check out my twist on this old favourite, the Singapore Chilli Lobster:Print
Singapore Chilli Crab recipe. Arguably one of our greatest culinary inventions, it consistently makes the world’s top 50 list of foods to try.
- 2 live medium sized crabs (about 2 kg) – cooked just isn’t the same
- 2 tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp tomato ketchup
- 2 Tbsp tamarind (mashed with 4 Tbsp water)
- 2 Tbsp veg oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp white sugar (if needed)
- 125ml (1/2 cup) water
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- small handful chopped coriander (cilantro)
- small handful chives, chopped
Grind to a paste
- 1 medium onion
- 3 red Thai (or any bird’s eye) chillies
- 3 cloves garlic
- 5 cm/2″ fresh ginger
- 2 Tbsp taucheo (soybean paste) or use same amount of hoisin sauce (found in supermarkets)
You’ll need a large wok
To prepare the tamarind:
- Soak the pulp in the water for 10-20 minutes. The hotter the water, the less time you need.
- After the soaking time, give it all good mix with, squeezing the pulp with your fingers, then strain through a medium or large mesh sieve. Discard the seeds and pulp.
- Clean and chop crab.
- Heat oil in a large wok and fry the paste ingredients until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, water, ketchup, tamarind then crabs and give it all a good stir. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes until the crabs are done.
- Taste and add more salt if needed. If you find the sauce too spicy, add some sugar.
- Add the egg and gently mix it in for 20 seconds, and turn the heat off and take the wok off the heat. The egg doesn’t want very long as you want wisps of it, not scrambled bits.
- Garnish with the herbs and serve with rice.
- Category: Main Course with Rice
- Cuisine: Singaporean Chinese