This is probably my absolute favourite way to eat crab! It’s such a delicious, slightly spicy, lip-smackingly savory, well balanced sauce that I always end up licking my fingers to get at every last bit of it. No wonder this is the unofficial national dish of Singapore. It utilizes some of the same ingredients as the rest of that region, but in such beautifully balanced quantities and ratios that you’ll want to eat it every day. The best part is that it’s amazingly easy to make. You’re only 20 minutes away from the best crab you’ve ever had. Let’s get started.
Singapore Chilli Crab – Recipe
4 Tbsp. canola oil, divided
- 1/4 cup dried red chilies (torn in half, seeds removed, stems discarded and softened in ½ cup of warm water for half an hour, reserve chili water)
- 1- 2 fresh red chilies, roughly chopped
- 2 shallots, roughly chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2” piece of ginger, roughly chopped
- 3 Tbsp. ketchup
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. oyster sauce (optional)
- 1 Tbsp. sugar, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3 Dungeness or blue crabs (cleaned, split lengthwise in half, gills removed, claws separated and slightly cracked)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cups water, divided
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced (for garnish)
- Soft white bread called man tou (or white rice, roti canai to soak up the sauce)
- In a blender or food processor, add rehydrated dry chilies and 2 Tbsp. of the reserved chili water, fresh chilies, shallots, garlic, ginger and 2 Tbsp. water and blend until smooth. Add more reserved chili water if necessary. Keep aside.
- Mix all the sauce ingredients together. Keep aside.
- Heat a large heavy bottom, non-stick pan on medium and add remaining oil.
- Sautee spice paste until fragrant, 3 – 5 minutes.
- Add the sauce, rest of the reserved chili water and stir well.
- Add crab; stir until crab is coated with sauce. Add more water if sauce is too thick, it will reduce down later. Place lid and cook for 7 – 10 minutes or until crab is cooked through.
- Remove crab to a serving plate, let sauce simmer for 1 minute, add egg and mix well. Let cook for another minute. Test seasoning and adjust accordingly. This is a slightly spicy, but mostly savory sauce so if it’s too spicy add a little more sugar or oyster sauce.
- Pour sauce over crab, top with sliced green onions and serve with soft white bread, white rice or roti canai.
If you’re squeamish about cleaning live crab or are just unfamiliar with it, I would suggest you ask your fishmonger if they would clean and cut it in half for you. The only issue with this is that you’ll have to work fast as crab is best when cooked fresh. However, this will be a time saver and you can get to the best part – the eating – sooner.