Singaporean Chilli Crab

Do you remember this ↓ story from my post,  Dungeness Crab in Black Pepper & Lemongrass Sauce?

In early 1995, I was sent to beautiful, modern Singapore, on a business trip. My Singaporean colleagues treated me to their most famous meal for dinner, at Jumbo Seafood Restaurant.

Chilli Crab is listed at number 35 on World’s 50 most delicious foods, complied by CNN Go in 2011. Being a featured dish of Singapore, this popular seafood is a must try dish to complete the journey of local food discovery for any travelers. ~The Best

If you wish to experience insanely tasty chilli and/or black pepper crabs, Jumbo Seafood Restaurant is the place to go. If you only have time to try just one Singaporean food, one of these dishes should be your choice.  They are dishes to dig into by hand and not be concerned about looking absolutely messy after finishing your meal. But don’t worry. There are huge sinks available in several locations, in the midst of dining room tables, where you may wash your face and hands. Also, don’t forget to ask for bibs, which are a must.

Well, by your popular demand, I went on a serious quest to look into this sauce, loved by many, many.
I discovered that Jumbo Seafood Restaurants have their own packaged chilli sauce, used in their restaurants, incorporating a long list of ingredients, of which I cannot even begin to guess. I came across  several sauce recipes, each being called, ‘authentic’. I made and tasted a small échantillon of each. Ahem. No comment.  The simplest and tastiest (to my palate) was this one, which I found on Youtube, demonstrated by Foodland Hawaii, a grocery store chain with their headquarters in Honolulu. I cannot tell how similar the taste is to the one I had in Singapore, but I have an idea that it qualifies. I have made very minor adjustments to the recipe. You may watch the video demonstration here, to have a good idea of how to prepare this dish.

Singaporean Chilli Crab Fae's Twist & Tango

Singapore Chilli Crab

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 1 ~ 2 Hrs
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Recipe by:   Fae’s Twist & Tango   (

Singaporean Chilli Crab Fae's Twist & Tango


Recommend one crab (450~680 gr/1~1.5 lbs) per person.
•   2 crabs = 3 lbs Dungeness or crab available at your market (buy cooked, cleaned & cracked or see here for how to)

Sauce mixture
•   2 Tbsp hot chili paste, i.e. sriracha, chilli sauce, hot sauce – See below notes [1]&[2].
•   3 Tbsp tomato paste
•   3 Tbsp soy sauce
•   3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
•   2 Tbsp brown sugar [2]
•   3 Tbsp peanut oil
•   160 gr/5.5 oz sweet onion, finely minced
•   4 cloves garlic, extra finely minced
•   ½ thumb-sized piece of ginger (1″/2.5cm), peeled & extra finely minced
•   ¼ cup water

•   1 Tbsp cornstarch, diluted in 2 Tbsp water

Finishing touch
•   1 egg, beaten
•   2 stems sliced green onions or a few sprigs of cilantro for garnish (optional)


◊  Reserve the main shell of the crab (for display). Place it on the serving platter, to later cover it with crab legs and the sauce.

◊  In a bowl, mix the chili paste, tomato sauce, soy-sauce, rice wine vinegar, and brown sugar. Thin it with ¼ cup water and set aside. See below note [2].

◊  Pour the oil into a wok or large pot. Heat over high heat. When oil ripples, add onion and stir until edges start browing. Add garlic, ginger and sautée for 1 more minute.

◊  Pour in the sauce and bring to a boil. Add crabs, stirring often, so crabs will absorb the sauce.

◊  Pour the cornstarch slurry into the sauce (not over the crab) and stir until sauce thickens.

◊  Add beaten egg to the sauce (not over the crab) and continue to stir. Now, stir the crab with the sauce.

◊  On the serving platter, place the legs over the main shell and pour sauce over the crabs. Garnish with green onions or sprigs of cilantro if preferred.

◊  Served warm… dig in with hands! Lots of napkins needed. Wearing a bib may not be a bad idea! Goes well with hot steaming rice.

~  慢慢吃!•  mànmàn chī!  ~

[1]  ° Siracha is a spicy sauce made with red chili and garlic, especially served with Vietnamese and Thai cuisine.
° Chili sauce is a hot sauce made with tomatoes, chilies, and spices.
° Hot sauce, chili sauce or pepper sauce, refers to any spicy sauce condiment made from chili peppers and other ingredients.

[2] First, add only 1 Tbsp of hot chili paste (or sriracha, chilli sauce, hot sauce) and mix. Add remaining paste, a little at a time to the sauce mixture, to adjust the spiciness to your tolerance. The same applies to brown sugar, adjust sweetness to your liking.

So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?

Check out Fae’s → Recipe Index

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  1. Thanks for the recipe
    That look delicious :D

  2. Oh my lord! That looks good!

  3. […] more predictable. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be fun. Just look at Fae’s Singaporean Chili Crab. I don’t think I’ll missing meat if I had that. Maybe I will! Just need to find crabs. […]

  4. This sounds so wonderful. I wish I had a full platter of it right now.

  5. OMG these look amazinnng!!!

  6. Hi, Fae. Thanks for stopping by my blog and liking my post, Baked Chicken Cutlets. The crab recipe sounds delicious. It makes me hungry. This would be good with rice. I’m imagining myself licking my fingers while eating it. Oh, my goodness! Thanks for the recipe. :)

  7. Wow, I’m so impressed you made your own Singapore chili crab! I enjoyed this dish in Singapore, too. I’ve never prepared whole crabs at home, mostly because I assume they’d be expensive and then I’d worry about messing them up. Yours looks delicious!

    1. Oh no Allison. In season, when on sale, each Dungeness crab is about $6~7. Better fresh, but if you prefer, markets will do the boiling and cleaning for you. Since I like the ‘miso’ in the crab shell (and use it in/for the sauce sometimes), I boil my own.

      1. Hm, I’ll have to do some research on when it’s in season and where I can buy it locally. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. My mouth is watering like crazy right now!

  9. I keep hearing about how amazing Singapore chilli crab is, particularly as we live so close to Singapore here in Australia. Can you believe I’ve never eaten it? I think I need to try your recipe. Looks absolutely delicious! x

  10. afracooking · · Reply

    I was in Singapore last year and now I can see I really missed out on something!

  11. I made your very scrumptious dish & it was amazing, fantastic even! My hubby Peter agreed with me! x

    1. I am so glad, and I appreciate the feed back. :D

  12. I am drooling! thanks for sharing this mouth-watering recipe of the sauce. Can’t wait to try it!

  13. oh!!! The chili crab!!! My stomach just growled, haha!

  14. Waiting for you to come to Singapore again! I can’t offer you crabs….but you will get some yummy vegetarian South Indian fare!

    1. Thank you so much, Radhika. The count down has begun. I am so~ looking forward to it!

  15. bitsofnice · · Reply

    Oh my goodness, how delicious is that!!

  16. Amazing! Please share this at my Lunar New Year Celebration!

  17. That looks so good! Time to dig out the bibs!

  18. OMG Fae! That looks incredibly delicious! LOVE it!

  19. Fae, that recipe sounds like it could very well be Jumbo’s. Yes, I’ve had chili crab at the restaurant. Funny I have Singapore Chili Crab in my draft but never published ’cause I was unsure about my recipe. Now I won’t even bother; what you have here is perfection. Will be making this, I know.

  20. Awesome Fae, Im craving for Crab now!! :)

  21. I love seafood, and this looks so appetizing!

  22. Wow you are on a kick Fae! This recipe looks so good. Brown sugar and peanut oil with hit sauce. Yum. I had a lobster while this weekend and I was wondering what other ways there were to do it up. This looks so tasty!

  23. Of course I remember your story the crab with black pepper and lemongrass sauce, I’ve bought the lemon grass because of that recipe, and I really really love this new recipe!

    1. I’m so glad to hear that. Me too! :D )))

  24. Finger licking crabs! :)

  25. Yummy! I wish this was my dinner tonight :)

  26. I do remember your story (love all your stories) and applaud your culinary research and testing. This dish looks so good! No way I can make it but I so want to go try this for myself in Singapore!

    1. A great reason for you to go to Singapore! :D )))

  27. Have never seen anything like this before…this looks wonderful…thanks for sharing.

    1. If you like crab, and you like spicy food, this is magnificent!

  28. Oh my god! What a perfect timing! I was actually looking for a nice crab recipe for a friend who has a 1.5 kg crab and doesn’t know what to do with it ! I will definitely recommend this one.

  29. I devoured this dish a couple of years ago while on vacation in Singapore – one of my favorites there. Your version looks fantastic!

    1. So far, Angie you and I can be a club of people who have experienced this dish first hand! :D )))

  30. Oh wow that looks incredible, now I am really hungry for some of that spicy sweet crab.

  31. Hi Fae, thanks for dropping by my blog…I’m very honoured. Always wanting to make Singaporean chilli crab – looks like a perfect recipe to try :)

  32. That looks amazing Fae!

  33. Oh my, this looks so good. I love fresh crab. :)


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