Let’s face it: shellfish stir-fried in a semi-thick, sweet and savory tomato and chili-based sauce = shiok (Singapore slang for delicious)!
Despite its name, this really isn’t 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, but you could also use blue crab if you live on the East Coast, or another local type. Freshness is the key, not size!
This recipe is said to have been invented by Cher Yam Tian in the mid 1950s when she added bottled chilli sauce to her dish of stir-fried crabs, instead of using tomato sauce, her usual ingredient. In 1956, she and her husband began selling the dish from a pushcart along the seaside.
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! 🙂
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