Singapore Chili Crab


Singapore Chili Crab is another one of those recipes that I feel is my birthright, the others being Hainanese chicken rice, char kuay teow, char kuay, Hokkien mee and rojak. If you’ve met me, you’ll probably think I’m a ‘banana’ (yellow on the outside, white on the inside) because I speak with a funny American accent when I’m serious and function/think in a very Westernized manner. However, there is one part of me that is definitely Singaporean, and that is my mouth. People say they can’t get the groove out of a rock musician, yeah well, you can’t get the char kuay out of me!

Anyway, readers of this blog will probably know by now that I’m a super seafood fan. I’m glad seafood is expensive, hence special, because I love it so much that I will be willing to eat crabs, lobsters, shrimp and fish all day, if I can afford it. Thankfully, I can’t, which is why my cholesterol level hasn’t shot up like a rocket.

The chili crab sauce is made of sticky gooey awesomeness, that is often made with tomatoes and a chili paste (rempah). It sounds spicy, but it really isn’t that spicy at all. The crabs, usually Sri Lankan mud crabs (but any others would do – blue crabs, soft-shell crabs etc.), are fried in this sauce, and mantou (steamed buns) will be served on the side to suck up all the excess gravy after the crabs have been eaten. Singapore Chili Crab is listed as number 35 in the World’s 50 most quite delicious foods by CNN Go in 2011.


  • 1 live mud crab (approximately 1kg), cut into 6 pieces
  • 2 garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 dozen steamed mantou (Chinese steamed bun)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced into 1 inch sections
  • [garnish] 4 sprigs coriander
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup water
  • [optional] 1 1/2 teaspoons corn flour (mixed with 1 tablespoon water)

Ingredients for Chili Sauce

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 shallots
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch by 1/2 inch piece of ginger
  • 1/4 cup dried chili, soaked
  • 2-4 fresh red chili (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon tao chio (fermented bean sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Wash the crab carefully, then cut each crab into six pieces. (2 claws, cut the body in half down the middle, and divide each half into two.)

In a food processor, add shallots, ginger, garlic, fresh chili and dried chili, and process until a paste is formed.

In a heated pan, fry the chili paste until it is dry, then add the 1/4 cup of oil and continue frying the chili paste until fragrant.

Add ketchup, salt, sugar, water and tao chio to the chili paste. Stir to combine, then remove from heat and set aside.


In a heated wok/pan, add oil, then add garlic and fry for about 30 seconds.

Add the spring onion sections, and fry till fragrant.

Add crabs and water, turn the heat on high, and cover and let the crabs ‘steam’ until almost cooked. This will take about 5 to 7 minutes. The crabs will turn red.


Add the chili sauce from before to the wok/pan, and fry until everything is equally combined.

Add the beaten egg to the work in a small steady stream, then mix until the egg is evenly combined.

[Optional] If the chili gravy/sauce is too watery, mix the cornstarch with water and add to the gravy.

Garnish with sprigs of coriander (optional) and serve.


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