Singapore Chilli Crab Recipe

Singapore chilli crab

If you have ever visited Singapore you will have experienced the famous, very delicious chilli crab. It is the national dish. Easy to make, it is a firm Rockfish favourite.

Serves 2


1 cooked crab, weighing about 1kg – hen or cock crab is fine as they both work well; size is up to you and your appetite

4 tablespoons cornflour

vegetable oil for deep-frying

For the paste:

8 fresh red chillies, roughly chopped

75g peeled fresh ginger, roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon shrimp paste – you can buy this in Asian stores; it’s smelly but adds an incredible flavour to the dish

vegetable oil for frying

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons palm sugar or soft brown sugar

4 tablespoons tomato ketchup

2 tablespoons sriracha chilli sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

200ml chicken stock – I use Knorr powder

2 eggs, beaten

To garnish:

2 spring onions, finely sliced

a handful of chopped coriander


Open the crab: place it on its back, put your thumbs under the back legs and push up until the crab pops apart (this can be difficult but it will open). Keep the top shell (clean and dry it) and the brown meat but drain off any water and discard the dead man’s fingers – the small feathery things on the body (you may also find some in the top shell) – and any membrane. Pull off the claws, cut them in half and give the pieces a good crack so the sauce will be able to get into the meat. Cut the body into 6 by first cutting it in half, top to bottom, then slicing in between the legs so each leg has a clump of body at the end of it.

Put the pieces of crab body and claws in a bowl. Sprinkle over the cornflour and toss, making sure everything is completely coated. This will give the crab a nice stickiness when it’s cooked. Heat the oil in a deep pan to about 160°C. (If you don’t have a thermometer or deep-fat fryer, heat the oil in a deep pan – it is hot enough to fry the crab when a small piece of bread dropped in quickly fizzles and crisps.) 

Working in batches, deep-fry all the pieces of crab for about 3 minutes, then drain on kitchen paper.

To make the paste, blitz the chillies, ginger, garlic and shrimp paste together in a food processor. Get your wok or large frying pan nice and hot, then add a little oil and fry the paste for a few minutes. Add the sugar followed by the ketchup, sriracha and soy. Stir together, then add the stock and mix well.

Add the pieces of crab and the brown crab meat and cook for 5–6 minutes.

Remove the crab and place on your serving dish or in the crab shell, if using for decoration. Turn up the heat under the wok and stir the beaten eggs into the sauce. As soon as you start to see strands of white appear, remove from the heat and pour the sauce over the crab. Garnish with spring onions and coriander and serve.