Chilli crab is a popular seafood dish among locals and foreigners in Singapore. It has been referred to in various food publications as Singapore’s national seafood dish or even Singapore’s national dish.
Chilli crab is said to have been invented by Cher Yam Tian in the mid-1950s when she, on her husband Lim Choon Ngee’s suggestion, added bottled chilli sauce to her dish of stir-fried crabs which she had normally cooked with bottled tomato sauce. In 1956, the couple began selling the dish from a pushcart along the seaside, business was booming so by the 1980’s they were able to migrate to New Zeeland.
The dish consists of deep-fried crabs that are served in a chilli- and tomato-based gravy.
As the crab is served with the shell on, the dish is typically eaten with one’s hands.The Singapore Tourism Board officially promotes chilli crab as one of Singapore’s signature dishes through its website and overseas events such as the Tiger Beer Singapore Chilli Crab Festival, which has been held in various cities including London and New York.
Serves: 4 to 6 people
– 3 to 4 pounds of Whole crab, cleaned and cut into quarters
– Shallots, peeled and chopped, 4 or 5
– 4 to 8 Chili peppers, chopped
– 5 cloves Garlic, chopped
– Oil, 3 tablespoons
– Shrimp paste (optional), 2 teaspoons
– 1 cup Tomato puree
– 3 tablespoons of Soy sauce
– 2 tablespoons of Vinegar
– 1 tablespoon of Tomato paste
– 1/4 cup of Sugar
– Salt to taste
– Water, 1/2 cup
-1 tablespoon Cornflour
– 2 Eggs, beaten
– 1/2 bunch of Cilantro leaves, chopped
Place the shallots, chilies and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Add the oil to a wok or large pot over medium-high flame. Add the chopped shallots and chilies and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp paste and continue to stir fry until the vegetables are cooked down and their moisture is reduced a bit more.
Stir in the tomato puree, soy sauce, vinegar, tomato paste, sugar and salt. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes.
Add the crab and toss to coat. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the crab is cooked through and the shells turn red.
Whisk the cornflour with the 1/2 cup water. and stir into the simmering crab to lightly thicken the sauce. Season if needed.
Add the beaten egg to the ingredients in the wok or pot and stir into the sauce.
Pour the chilli crab into a warm serving dish and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro.
Serve with a sliced baguette, sliced bread or serve alongside of some rice or noodles and pour over the tasty chilly sauce.
Now in Singapore they would say ” Menikmati hidangan anda or