Singapore Chilli (properly spelled this way in Singapore) Crab (Chinese: 辣椒螃蟹; pinyin: là jiāo páng xiè) is a local seafood dish that is extremely popular in both Singapore and Malaysia. Let’s face it: crab stir-fried in a semi-thick, sweet and savory tomato and chili-based sauce = shiok (Singapore slang for delicious)!
Despite its name, Chili Crab is not a very spicy dish at all – but it is exceedingly flavorful. It is listed at number 35 on the World’s 50 most delicious foods compiled by CNN Go in 2011.
After my first trip to Singapore and discovering Chili Crab, I vowed to find a way to make it at home. In Singapore, it is made from the local mud crab: I have substituted Dungeness crab, but you could also use blue crab if you live on the East Coast, or another local type. Freshness is the key, not size!
Singaporean friends have assured me this recipe equals the local version of the dish – one even whispered confidentially it surpassed the version served at the famous Newton hawker market – high praise indeed! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
1 lb crab
3 tbsp lard (preferred) or peanut oil
Hirshon ‘Four 8’s’ Rempah paste, made from:
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 fresh red fresno chilies, finely chopped
8 shallots, minced
1″ hunk of ginger, minced
8 macadamia nuts, finely chopped
½” hunk of galangal, minced (or use ginger if unavailable)
1 teaspoon shrimp paste (alternatively, you can use anchovy paste)
Combine all of the rempah ingredients above in a food processor for an alternative and easier method of achieving the paste as opposed to hand-mincing
2 spring onions (scallions), cut into finger length
1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 small bunch coriander plant (cilantro), chopped
Mix together for Sauce:
¾ cup of chicken stock (unsalted)
¼ cup shaoxing wine (or use dry sherry)
3 tbsp Heinz chili sauce
2 tbsp Guilin Chili paste (if not available, use Heinz chili sauce instead)
1 ½ tbsp sugar, or to taste
1 ½ tsp cornstarch
1 tsp dark (red) miso
¼ tsp salt
Heat the oil in a wok or shallow saucepan over high heat. Add rempah and stir-fry for 1 minute or till fragrant. Add crab, chopped into pieces – if too large for the wok – and fry well till shells start turning red.
Add sauce ingredients stir well, cover with lid and simmer till shells are red. Break eggs into the wok and streak with a fork, simmer till cooked. Squeeze lime juice over and stir in scallions. Garnish with chopped cilantro to taste.
Mop up the sauce with white bread or Chinese mantou (buns).