The Singaporeans claim the Chili Crab as their national dish. As a good Malaysian, this was ^our^ dish! But since my good friend, Karina Lee, gave me the original recipe for the dish, which I have now adapted to the abundance of this side of the Pacific pond, and she lives in Singapore now, I will gladly attribute this dish as Singaporean.
When you fly into Changi, after a grueling 16 hour flight, your food obsessed Singaporean friends (every Singaporean is a foodie) would say “Let’s go for Chili Crabs” and before you can say no as you struggle with your jet-lag stupor, you are already at one of the outdoor, jumbo seafood restaurants on East Coast Road!
Chili Crabs are finger lickin’ good. With the meaty Dungeness crab, you will have a little bit more crab meat to soak up the wonderful sauce and not be tempted to eat your fingers, too. Serve it with a loaf of baguette or horrors! toasted white wonderbread.
Chef’s tip: You will need live crabs for this dish. Some stores like Wholefoods will take orders ahead, otherwise, many Asian fishmongers carry live crabs.
6 tablespoon Asian sweet chili sauce
10 tablespoon ketchup
4 tablespoon vinegar
2 cups of water
2 egg white, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons water
5 tablespoon canola oil
2 Dungeness crabs (2 ½ lbs each)
10 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
10 slices of ginger, julienned finely
4 tablespoon sugar (to taste)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup of cilantro, cut into 2 inches sprigs
1 cup of scallions, sliced into 2 inches strips
1. Mix chili sauce, ketchup, vinegar and water together; set aside
2. Beat egg whites with water; set aside.
3. Mix cornstarch with water; set aside.
Preparing the crab
4. Ask your fishmonger to kill and clean the shellfish for you, but you must cook it within 2-3 hours of killing. Remove gills and innards. Clean and pat dry shellfish. Crabs should be cut into 6 pieces each. Keep the crab roe.
5. Heat 4 tablespoon oil in wok. Fry shellfish including crab roe till bright vermillon red and fragrant. Remove crabs from wok. Do not wash the wok!
6. Using same wok, brown garlic, ginger with the rest of the oil till fragrant; about 2 minutes.
7. Add chili-ketchup sauce mixture. Add more sugar and salt to taste.
8. Add egg white, wait half a minute then stir to get silky threads of whites.
9. Add cornstarch mixture and stir to thicken.
10. Add back the crab. Mix well.
11. Toss in the cilantro and scallions, leaving a small handful for garnish.
12. Serve immediately garnish of cilantro and scallions.
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