How to make Singapore Chilli Crab (Original)

Chilli Crab

Chili crab is a seafood dish originating from Singapore.

The recipe was created in 1950 by Singaporean chef, Madam Cher Yam Tian with her husband, Mr Lim Choon Ngee. The couple ran Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant on Upper East Coast Road (near the present day East Coast Seafood Centre.) Mud crabs are commonly used and are stir-fried in a semi-thick, sweet and savoury tomato and chilli based sauce.

Chilli Crab can be widely found at Malaysian and Singaporean seafood hawker stalls, kopi tiams or restaurants. Despite its name, chili crab is not a very spicy dish.

Recipe for Singapore Chilli Crab:

Ingredients for Singapore Chilli Crab:

  • 1 lb (450g) mud crabs or soft shelled crabs
  • 4 tbsp plain flour if using soft shelled crabs
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil (for soft-shelled crabs, oil for deep frying)
  • 8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 8 fresh red chilli, roughly chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), cut into finger length
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
  • 1 small bunch coriander plant (cilantro)

Ingredients for Sauce:

  • 1 cup of water, 5 tbsp tomato kethup, 1 1/2 to 3 tbsp sugar, or according to taste, 1 1/2 tsp cornflour, 1 tsp pounded brown preserved soya beans or dark miso (optional), 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Heat the oil in a wok or shallow saucepan over high heat.
  2. Add garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  3. Add the chilli, stir-fry till fragrant. For mud crabs, add at this stage. Fry well till shells start turning red, add sauce ingredients stir well, cover with lid and simmer till shells are red.
  4. Break eggs into the wok and streak with a fork, simmer till cooked. Squeeze lime juice over and stir in scallions.
  5. For soft-shelled crabs, cut each crab into four, dry well, dredge in flour and deep fry till golden brown and crispy. Make the sauce as above, but omit the mud crabs.
  6. Toss soft shelled crabs in sauce just before serving.

This unofficial ‘national dish’ is usually prepared with fresh succulent crabs in a hearty, sweet and spicy gravy and is best eaten with your fingers! Mop up the mouth-watering gravy with white bread or Chinese mantou (buns).

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  1. Anonymous

    ketam sambal!!!!

  2. levis501

    this chilli crab taste was quiet nice but not great.

  3. Maxim

    Simple but delicious dish! Great post. I bookmarked this page for future reference. I loooove crabs!!

  4. Office pods

    This looks delicious. I am going to try this very soon. Thanks for the recipe.

  5. Anonymous

    This is one of the nicest things I have ever eaten

  6. cibai kia

    catsup? Ketchup is it? walao eh….spend some time lookin up catsup