Chili Crab Recipe

By Marcus Samuelsson |

Some of the most famous street food in the world belongs to the small island off the southern coast of Malaysia:  Singapore.  Known for its stringent regulation in everything from banning chewing gum to forcing street food vendors off the streets, Singapore has one of the most vibrant and eclectic food industries in the world, masterfully featuring copious dishes from Malaysia, China, India, and Indonesia to mention a few.  Plus the heavy government regulation certifies that the food is clean, a common concern from travelers abroad.

At the top of the street food list is Chili Crab, the unofficial national dish of Singapore.  This simple dish with unbelievable flavor is mouthwatering, lip burning, and soul invigoration goodness will leave you wishing you could reverse time to eat it again.

Adapted from Rasa Malaysia

*Make sure to crack the crab shells before cooking to make them easier to eat and to infuse the meat with the spices.

Prep Details

Servings: 4


3-4 whole Dungeness crabs, or mud crabs if you're traditional

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp tamarind juice

2 tbsp cooking oil

3-4 dried or fresh red birds-eye chilies

1 tbsp soy bean paste

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2-3 inches of ginger

3 scallions, chopped


Photo: Soh Shu Hui

1.Clean the crabs and chop the crabs into pieces at the joints.

2. Use a food processor or mortar and pestle to grind and mix up the chilies, soy bean paste, garlic and fresh ginger. Make sure your new spice paste is finely ground.

3. Heat up your wok and the cooking oil. Fry the spice paste until it emits a spicy fragrance.

4. Add in the crab pieces, about 1/2 cup of water and stir the mixture. Cover the wok for 3 to 4 minutes.

5. Add in the sugar, tamarind juice, salt and stir for roughly 2 minutes until the crab pieces are red and delicious looking.

6. Serve each crab on a plate (or paper plate if you're doing the street food thing), spoon on the chili sauce, garnish with the scallions, and delightfully consume.