Chilli crab
Chili crab is a seafood
Seafood is any form of marine life regarded as food by humans. Seafoods include fish, molluscs , crustaceans , echinoderms . Edible sea plants, such as some seaweeds and microalgae, are also seafood, and are widely eaten around the world, especially in Asia...

 dish originating from Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

. It was created in 1950 by Singapore chef, Cher Yam Tian with her husband, Lim Choon Ngee. The couple ran Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant on Upper East Coast Road
Katong is a residential area in the east of Singapore near the seafront. Formerly located by the sea, land was reclaimed all the way to East Coast Park to provide more land for housing and recreational purposes due to shortage of land in the late 1960s after Singapore gained independence.Katong was...

 (near the present day East Coast Seafood Centre
East Coast Seafood Centre
The East Coast Seafood Centre is a tri-block food centre in East Coast Park, Singapore, best known for co-locating several major local seafood restaurants, including Jumbo Seafood and Long Beach Seafood Restaurant. Jumbo Seafood established its first and flagship oulet at the Centre in 1987, with...

.) Mud crabs
Scylla serrata
Scylla serrata is an economically important crab species found in the estuaries and mangroves of Africa, Australia and Asia. In their most common form, the shell colour varies from a deep, mottled green to very dark brown...

 are commonly used and are stir-fried
Stir frying
Stir frying is an umbrella term used to describe two Chinese cooking techniques for preparing food in a wok: chǎo and bào . The term stir-fry was introduced into the English language by Buwei Yang Chao, in her book How to Cook and Eat in Chinese, to describe the chǎo technique...

 in a semi-thick, sweet and savoury tomato
The word "tomato" may refer to the plant or the edible, typically red, fruit which it bears. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler...

 and chilli based sauce. It can be widely found at Malaysian and Singaporean seafood hawker stalls
Hawker centre
A hawker centre or cooked food centre is the name given to open-air complexes in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Riau Islands housing many stalls that sell a variety of inexpensive food...

, kopi tiam
Kopi tiam
咖啡店A kopitiam or kopi tiam is a traditional breakfast and coffee shop found in Southeast Asia. The word is a portmanteau of the Malay word for coffee and the Hokkien dialect word for shop...

s or restaurants. Despite its name, chili crab is not a very spicy dish. It is listed at number 45 on World's 50 most delicious foods complied by CNN Go in 2011.


Although mud crabs
Scylla serrata
Scylla serrata is an economically important crab species found in the estuaries and mangroves of Africa, Australia and Asia. In their most common form, the shell colour varies from a deep, mottled green to very dark brown...

 are commonly used, other varieties of crab that have been used include:
  • Flower crab / Blue swimmer crab
    Portunus pelagicus
    Portunus pelagicus, also known as the flower crab, blue crab, blue swimmer crab, blue manna crab or sand crab, is a large crab found in the intertidal estuaries of the Indian and Pacific Oceans and the Middle-Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The name "flower crab" is used in east Asian...

  • Soft-shell crab


Chilli crab sauce is usually semi-thick, sweet and savoury although there are some that are served watery.
The base of the chilli crab sauce is usually chilli sauce and tomato sauce. It is thickened with a thickening flour. Flavoured with garlic, rice vinegar
Rice vinegar
Rice vinegar is a vinegar made from fermented rice or rice wine in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.-Chinese:Chinese rice vinegars are stronger than Japanese ones, and range in colour from clear to various shades of red and brown...

, soya sauce
Soy sauce
Soy sauce is a condiment produced by fermenting soybeans with Aspergillus oryzae or Aspergillus sojae molds, along with water and salt...

 and etc. Beaten chicken eggs are added near the end of the cooking process to create egg-ribbons in the sauce.


Chilli crabs are commonly served with breads for mopping up the sauce:
  • Steamed or fried mantou
    Mantou, often referred to as Chinese steamed bun/bread, is a kind of steamed bun originating in China. They are typically eaten as a staple in northern parts of China where wheat, rather than rice, is grown. They are made with milled wheat flour, water and leavening agents...

     (Chinese buns)
  • French loaves
    A baguette is "a long thin loaf of French bread" that is commonly made from basic lean dough...

  • Toasted sliced bread

Plain white rice may be eaten with chilli crabs too.

Basic method

The crabs are lightly fried or steamed first with ginger, before being stir-fried in a chilli sauce made mostly with chilli paste, ketchup, and chicken eggs. The shells are usually partially cracked before cooking for ease of eating later. It is commonly garnished with coriander leaves (cilantro).

External links

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