How To Cook Chili Crab, Singapore Style!

Chili crab is a quintessentially Singaporean dish. It’s the epitome of comfort food with a touch of fine dining, and a go to dish whenever Singaporeans want to celebrate something. In fact, many even regard it as the national dish of Singapore. 

The good news is, chili crabs are everywhere in Singapore, and there are many Zi Char restaurants offering this mouth-watering dish all across the island.

However, with the circuit breaker and other restrictions in place, getting to your favorite Singapore chili crab place may be a bit of a challenge.

The next best step would be to make your own chili crab. It’s actually quite easy once you start. The ingredients for a Singapore chili crab recipe are quite easy to procure and you can find them in your local wet market or supermarket.

The first and most important ingredient you have to obtain for your chili crab Singapore recipe is of course the crab itself.

Choosing the Best Crabs for Your Homemade Chili Crab

The chili crab recipe Singapore is pretty versatile, so you can actually use any type of crab and the recipe will still turn out amazing. 

However, in Singapore, the most popular type of crab to use is the Mud Crab. You can identify mud crabs by their extra large pincers. Their large pincers actually soak up the sauce very well, and provide soft, juicy flesh that’s irresistible. 

premium award winning chilli crab by crab delivery singapore 8 crabs

Mud crabs or Sri Lankan crabs are the most popular for chili crabs in Singapore. Source:

Apart from Mud Crabs, you can also use Dungeness Crabs, Blue Crabs, Stone crabs, and Flower crabs which are widely available. However, none of these crabs have the large juicy pincers that Mud Crabs have. 

Dungeness crabs are also a great choice for chili crab. Source: Unsplash

Another thing you have to know is how to tell the genders of crabs apart. If you want more crab roe or crab eggs, you have to choose female crabs. Female crabs have wider and larger abdominal markings, whereas males have markings that are narrower. 

Tips Before You Start Cooking

Before you start cooking, there are a few things to consider and put into practice. These tips will help to make your dish the best chili crab in Singapore, so try your best to practice them whenever possible.

  1. Fresh crabs are the best, so try and buy them on the day you want to prepare the chili crabs. If you buy them alive, the most humane way to prepare them is by freezing them for 20 minutes, which will put them into a deep sleep.
  2. When preparing crabs, you should remove their main covering shell, but don’t throw that away. The shell actually lends more flavors to your chili crab recipe, so you can add it into the pan or wok later on in the cooking process.
  3. When it comes to choosing between tomato sauce or tomato paste we would advise going with tomato paste as this actually lends a more intense flavor.
  4. There are many variations of the chili crab recipe in Singapore, and even different restaurants tweak it a little, so don’t be stressed if you find that someone else does things slightly differently.
  5. The recipe begins with a spice mixture. Some people chop up the spices and proceed to fry them straight away. However, we advise that you blend them together in your blender or with a mortar and pestle if you have one.
  6. The spiciness of your chili crabs will come from the chilies you add to your spice paste, so if you want it spicier, add more fresh chilies or dried chilies. Dried chilies and bird’s eye chilies are much spicier and will give your dish an added fiery ‘kick’.

Add chili padi or bird’s eye chilies if you want more ‘kick’. Source: Unsplash

  1. Chili crabs are typically served with Man Tou, or plain Chinese buns. These Man Tou can be fried or steamed, and most people love them because they can be used to scoop up every bit of that lovely chili crab sauce.

What are the Ingredients for Singaporean Chili Crab?

Here’s what you should have with you when preparing chili crab, to serve about 3-4 people:

  •         2 or 3  green Mud Crabs or any crab of your choosing
  •         ½ cup shallots
  •         1 ½ inch of ginger
  •         6 garlic cloves
  •         3 stalk of fresh red chillies
  •         1 tablespoon taucu or fermented soybean paste
  •         1-2 cups water
  •         2 tablespoon sugar
  •         4 tablespoons of tomato paste
  •         Pinch of salt
  •         1 tablespoon cornstarch diluted in ¼ cup water
  •         2 eggs
  •         Some oil for frying

Now Let’s Start Cooking

  1. Prepare your crabs by removing the main outer shell ( carapace) and slicing its body in two. Don’t discard the carapaces.
  2. Blend the shallots, ginger, garlic and chilies into a paste using your food processor or blender. You can add some water to make the blending process smoother.
  3. Transfer the blended spice paste to a wok or pan with heated oil in it. Fry until the spice paste is aromatic and the oil appears on the top of the paste.
  4. Add in your crab halves without the carapace and stir fry for about 5 minutes.
  5. Next, add in the taucu and sauté for a further 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add in about 1- 2 cups of water, and then add the tomato paste, sugar and salt. Adjust the amount of salt to taste.
  7. Once this comes to a boil, add in the carapaces on the top and cover the wok or pan. Simmer for a further 10 minutes on medium heat.
  8. Uncover the pan or wok and add in the diluted cornstarch. Simmer until sauce thickens.
  9. Beat the 2 eggs, and add it to the thickened sauce. Simmer until egg becomes thoroughly cooked.
  10. Your chili crab is now done, and you can serve it with steamed or fried ManTou buns.

Fried ManTou buns go great with chili crabs. Source: mmmsedap@Flickr

Have Chili Crabs Any Day

Chili crabs are really great because they’re loved by everyone in Singapore. You don’t have to worry about getting halal chili crabs in Singapore either because there are restaurants selling it. The ingredients for chili crabs are themselves halal, so it’s pretty easy to enjoy it no matter your religious beliefs.

If you develop a craving for chili crabs in Singapore but are too tired to make it yourself, you can try 8Crabs’ one hour delivery promo, which will ensure your cravings are satisfied ASAP. Apart from chili crabs, there are also other Zi Char favorites like Coffee Pork Ribs, Salted Egg Crab, Yong Zhou fried rice and more, which you can order as part of a package with you favorite Singapore chili crabs.

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