This chilli crab dish is so popular with tourists to Singapore that it has the name 'Singapore' as a prefix. Its origin is as debatable as to which restaurants serve the best chilli crabs. Did it originate from Punggol Point or East Coast Park ? Which restaurant serves the best chilli crab ? Names like Red House, No Signboard, Jumbo Seafood and Ponggol Seafood restaurants pop up easily. One thing everyone agrees is that the chilli crab dish is delicious.
Singapore Chilli Crab
How about cooking this chilli crab dish at home ?
The difficult part in cooking this dish is preparing the crab for cooking.
For home cooking, the best way and probably the most humane way to kill the crab is to put it in the freezer for about an hour. Take it out after one hour. The crab is not dead but sleeping (frozen stiff). Then take off the shell and clean away the lungs.
To crack the claws, a very quick way is to cover the claws with a damp cloth and gently smash them with the flat side of a cleaver. Smash gently, not too hard. You just want to crack the claws and not to pound them. Covering the claws with a damp cloth will prevent spillage.
Here is a 8 minute video showing how to prepare the crab for cooking.
For 1 kg of crab (A good size crab weighs between 800 gram to 1 kg)
3 large onions (finely chopped)
Blend 1 tomato, 3 small chillis (chilli padi), a slice of ginger and the lemon grasss (cut into small pcs).
In a wok, fry the chopped onions in 2 tbs of oil until fragrant.
Then add the chilli/tomato paste.
Stir for a couple of minutes.
Add a thin slice of belacan
and 3 tbs of tomato ketchup
The gravy should be just nice, not too thick or watery.
Add water if it is too thick.
Taste the gravy.
Add salt and sugar to taste.
Once the gravy is OK, put in the crab. Cover the wok and let the crab steam for about 10 minutes. When the colour of the shells turn red, the crab is cooked.
Crack an egg for extra flavour at the last minute and stir. The crab is ready to serve.
The next 2 videos give some tips for your own home cooked chilli crab.
This next 3 minute video is chilli crab from Jumbo Seafood Restaurant. They used ready pack chilli paste.
Papa Chong uses fermented bean curd instead of prawn paste for this chilli crab. Nice !
This is the Australian version, 6 minutes
A nice way to eat crab is to steam it. Nice video on how to remove the crab shell and how to cut up the crab after steaming.
Eric Teo shows how to cook the chilli crab.