Chilli crab is one of the famous seafood dishes that originates from Singapore. According to my search on the internet, the Chilli Crab recipe was created in 1950 by Singaporean chef, Madam Cher Yam Tian with her husband, Mr Lim Choon Ngee. The couple ran Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant on Upper East Coast Road (near the present day East Coast Seafood Centre).
Today, it is one of the favourite dishes among Singaporeans and visitors to Singapore, and it is widely known globally. There are quite a number of versions to the Chilli Crab recipe, and I’ve tried and tested a number of times the recipe and I think the recipe by Violet Oon, Singapore’s cooking doyenne, to have the closest taste to those served in some well-known seafood restaurants in Singapore.
This dish is cooked using mud crabs, but here I am using flower crab instead (for personal reasons), and it is equally yummylicious. This is not a very spicy dish, and it is well-loved by my whole family including my girl.
Recipe adapted from Violet Oon’s recipe:
3-4 flower crabs (or 1-2 mud crabs) – depending on size
5-6 cloves of garlic*
8-12 fresh/ dried chilli * (I used dried chilli)
1-3 cups of water
(note: *pounded/ blended to a paste)
2-3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 tsp pounded brown preserved soya beans or dark miso
5 tbsp tomato sauce
2-3 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
¼ tsp salt (or to taste)
½ lemon to get approx 1 tsp of lemon juice
1 tbsp of cornflour (mixed with a little water)
1 egg (beaten)
2 spring onions
1 small bunch coriander
1. In a pot or a large wok, bring the water to a boil and cook the crab till it’s ¾ done. Remove the crab and set it aside, but DON’T throw away the stock.
2. In a large wok, heat the oil over high heat.
3. Add garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute, or till slightly brown.
4. Add the chilli-garlic paste and stir-fry till fragrant, then add the bean paste and fry a little. Make sure you don’t burn the paste at this stage.
5. Add the tomato sauce, sugar and the stock and stir well. Let it simmer a little.
6. At the stage, you can add in the crab and let it simmer further.
7. Once the sauce bubbles up a little, add in the corn starch and stir it well.
8. Break eggs into a bowl and whisk it a little to break it up. Slowly pour the beaten egg into the sauce (in a few circles), and let it simmer for approximately 10 seconds, and then turn off the heat.
9. Add in the lemon juice and stir it once or twice. (Don’t stir it too much)
10. Plate it up and garnish with chopped spring onions and coriander.
Serve this with steam or fried mantou. Although more sinful (because it’s fried), my personal preference is fried mantou. It is somehow tastier when dipping it into the chilli crab sauce!