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The quick guide to chili crab in the region


Ask a Singaporean about their national dish, and chances are good that the answer will be “chili crab”.  Sweet, savoury and spicy all at once, this unique dish has gained popularity around and beyond the region.


Chili crab is most popular in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, although variations on the sauce used in the dish have emerged.



By Nicolas Lannuzel
The sauce used in Singapore chili crabs is semi-thick, sweeter than other variants and not quite as spicy as the name suggests. 

The least spicy and sweetest of the chili crab dishes, Singapore’s version of the chili crab was created in 1956 by Madam Cher Yam Tian and her husband Lim Choo Ngee, and sold from a pushcart. The dish sold so well that they eventually opened their own restaurant, Palm Beach.


The crab is stir-fried with tomato and chili paste, and the recipe can easily be prepared at home with modern cooking hobs like the Electrolux Maxiflame. The hob’s cooking temperatures can approach that of professional kitchens, producing food that tastes almost as good as the original.


Cornstarch and eggs are added towards the end of the cooking process to give the sauce extra fluffiness and texture. The dish is often accompanied by Chinese buns called mantou, which are steamed or fried.



By Chandra Marsono
The sauce for Indonesian chili crabs hails from Padang in West Sumatra, and is possibly the spiciest variant of chili crabs.

Called Kepiting Saus Padang in Indonesia, this Indonesian chili crab is made with a spicy sauce that originated in Padang, a city in West Sumatra. The sauce is prepared separately from the crabs, which can be boiled in water with ginger and garlic, or deep fried till golden brown.  It is also often used with other types of seafood, such as mussels or clams.


Kepiting Saus Padang is much spicier than its Singaporean counterpart, using bird chilies, red pepper, garlic, shrimp paste, candlenuts and shallots, all ground together into a paste.  A blender like the Electrolux EBR2001 makes easy work of the blending process with its powerful motor and five speed settings.



By Sherene
Malaysian chili crabs are similar to the Singaporean version, with slight variations in ingredients.


Chili crab dishes served in Malaysia are similar to the ones served in Singapore, with just a few differences in ingredients. Tamarind juice is used, and tomatoes may or may not be added. Eggs are also optional in the final dish. Malaysian chili crabs are often spicier than the ones found in Singapore and can be eaten with buns or rice.

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