Singapore Chili Crabs – King of the Crab Recipes?

Living in San Francisco, I’ve had more than my fair share of crab; prepared in more ways than I can remember, but I’ve never enjoyed it more than in this Singapore-style chili crabs recipe. Just be sure to have lots of napkins around. Lots of napkins.

Apparently, this is the national dish of Singapore, and you can’t throw a rock without hitting someone eating a plate of it. By the way, that’s not something you’d want to try. Just ask Michael P. Fay.

As far as I can tell, there’s no one standard way to make this. Besides the crab, and some kind of tomato product, I couldn’t find two recipes alike. What you see here is my take on this, but it does contain many of the most typical ingredients.

Most are easy to find, except maybe the tamarind paste, although any high-end grocery chain should stock some in their international foods section. If you can’t find it, maybe add a little extra pinch of sugar, plus the juice and zest of one lemon.

Obviously the most important ingredient is the crab, so find something really nice. The store up the street had a special on freshly steamed, Dungeness crab, so that’s what I used here, but any similar variety will work. 

If you can somehow get live crabs, that’s the ultimate choice, but I know that’s not realistic for most of you. The good news is, this is incredibly delicious either way. I really hope you give this Singapore-style chili crabs recipe a try soon. Enjoy!



Please Note: My friends in Singapore tell me they serve this with at least twice the amount of sauce, and a type of fried roll to soak up the goodness with. So, if you want to rock the chili crab like a Singaporean, then you should probably double the sauce ingredients!

Ingredients for four appetizer size portions:
2 whole cooked Dungeness crabs (about 2-3 lbs. each), cleaned and cracked
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced shallots, or other onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger root
1 tbsp minced serrano pepper

For the sauce:
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
2 tablespoon sambal (or any spicy ground chili sauce)
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp palm sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup chicken broth or water

Finish with:
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp sliced green onions (the green parts) or 1 tbsp sliced chives