We love to cook and entertain at home, even though we don’t do it often enough! But when we do, Singapore Chilli Crabs is hands down one of the most requested main course that our extended family and friends make! This iconic seafood dish was first created and sold from a pushcart in the 1950s and has since become one of Singapore’s national dishes that is a must-try for travellers visiting the island.
Mud crabs are commonly used, but other types of crabs can be used too. We like to use blue swimmer crabs (also known as blue manna crabs) as they are readily available and cost-effective here in Perth. Blue swimmers have delicate flesh and a sweet flavour, making them absolutely delicious!
Whilst fresh crabs are ideal for this recipe, good quality frozen crabs will work fine too! It’s worth noting that frozen seafood is often snap-frozen to lock in the taste and freshness. To preserve the quality of the crabs, always slow thaw them in the fridge 12-24 hours before cooking. We usually place them in a sealed container on a drip tray so that the crabs do not sit on the melted liquid.
Cooked in its hallmark semi-thick, sweet and savoury tomato-chilli based sauce, our blue swimmer Singapore chilli crabs are finger-licking good. They are best enjoyed using bare hands with a side serving of man tou (fried buns) or rice to soak up all that tasty sauce!
Singapore Chilli Crabs
- 6 blue swimmer crabs
- 4 tbsp oil vegetable or canola
- 3 eggs
- 3 shallots finely sliced
- 8 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 8 chilllies roughly chopped
- 3 tsp cornstarch
- sugar to taste
- salt to taste
- 1 lemon optional
- coriander roughly chopped, to serve
- 150 ml tomato ketchup
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 6 tbsp sugar plain, brown or finely grated palm sugar
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp salted fermented soy bean paste also known as taucu
- Clean the blue swimmers well. Remove and discard the spongy gills. Remove the top shell (carapace) and set aside and then cut the body into halves. If the claws are large, use a pestle to crack them.
- Combine all the sauce base ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large wok or deep pan. Add the garlic, chillies and shallots. Sauté in low to medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant.
- Turn up the heat and add the crabs, inlcuding the top shells. Sauté until the shells turn red.
- Lower the heat and add the sauce base and mix well with the crabs. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Mix the cornstarch with water to form a slurry, then pour it into the sauce so it thickens.
- Crack the eggs into the thickened sauce. Using a fork or spatula, streak the eggs through the sauce vigorously until it is cooked through.
- Remove the pan from the heat. If you want to, you can squeeze some lemon (to taste) over the sauce and mix it through.
- Plate the crabs and sauce onto a large serving plate and place the top shell on the top. Garnish with coriander to serve.