(Food styling: Michelle Pilarczyk; Image: Tatyana Kildisheva)
Read more about the women of the International Cooking Club Singapore, who contributed this recipe to the club’s The Red Dot Melting Pot Cookbook plus 7 other recipes you can find here!
Ingredients – Chilli Paste
18 Asian (small) shallots
18 garlic cloves
10 large red chillies, more to taste
2–3 bird’s eye red chillies, more to taste
3 thumb-sized pieces of galangal
2 large limes, juice of
2 tbsp Belacan (shrimp paste)*
Ingredients – Chilli Crab
1-½ kg (3-½ lb) mud crabs or flower crabs (see note below)
180 ml (3/4 cup) vegetable oil
1 portion of chilli paste (see above)
2 tsp Tao Cheong (fermented bean paste)
120 g (scant 2/3 cup) sugar
2 tsp salt
280 g (10 oz) tomato sauce
750 ml (3 cups) water or more, as required
1 tbsp corn starch
6 eggs, beaten
2 spring onions (scallions), chopped into 5-cm-long (2 in) pieces
A large handful of coriander, chopped, to garnish
2–3 large red chillies, chopped, to garnish
Ingredients – Accompaniment
Vegetable oil, sufficient for deep-frying
2 x 180 g (6 oz) packets plain Mantou (Chinese steamed bun), or white bread
Instructions – Chilli Paste
Place all the chilli paste ingredients into a food processor and blend to a fine paste.
Instructions – Chilli Crab
1. Anaesthetise the crabs by placing in freezer for 30 minutes. Insert a blade under the carapaces (hard upper shell) and pry them off
2. Scrub the carapaces clean. Remove the gills, abdominal segments, mouth flaps and anything else that is not pure white and discard. The remaining white parts are the meat.
3. Chop the body into 2 or 3 pieces, using the back of a cleaver to crack the shell.
4. Heat the oil in a wok until very hot and fry the chilli paste until fragrant. Add the Tau Cheong, sugar, salt and tomato sauce and stir well. Add the prepared crabs and mix well. Pour the water over the crabs, stir and cover with a lid. The crabs are ready when the crab shells turn bright red.
5. Mix the corn starch with a little of the broth to make a paste (to avoid lumps) then add this broth to the wok. Bring it to a boil. If using picked crab meat instead of fresh crabs, add it now and cook for 5 minutes.
6. Pour the beaten eggs from the side of the wok. Mix well, creating strands of cooked egg that can be seen in the sauce. Simmer for 10 seconds and add the chopped spring onions.Garnish with the chopped coriander leaves and chillies. Serve with the deep-fried Mantou.
Instructions – Accompaniment
Preheat the vegetable oil to 180°C (350 °F) and deep-fry the Mantou until golden brown.
If mud crabs cannot be found, flower crabs, or other varieties of crab, can be used. Mud crabs are recommended for this recipe as they are meatier than flower crabs. For ease of eating, picked crab meat (450 g/1 lb) may be used instead of whole crabs. If desired, a few whole crabs may be added for presentation purposes.
Where to Buy:
Candlenuts: Tekka wet market and Geylang Serai wet market (and likely many others), the Asian section of most primary and Asian grocery stores and Market Place (in the section of the store where most items are packaged in matching dark red and transparent plastic packaging).
Belacan (shrimp paste): It can be purchased as a large block (common Malaysian brand has red, yellow and white packaging) at Tekka, many other wet markets, Mustafa’s, the Asian section of most primary and Asian grocery stores, or as individually small single usage packages (Indonesian ABC brand, orange packaging) at Tekka wet market near the dried fish section and many other wet markets near the Malay section as well as INDOSTOP Indonesian Minimart. The small individual packaged version is recommended if you do not cook with this ingredient often as it has a strong fish aroma
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