Singapore Chilli Crab with Fried Mantou
I’m allergic to Seafood.

Now, I don’t immediately keel over and die, nor do I have to carry an “Epi Pen” for those unplanned shrimp related emergencies. I do, however, swell up like a large pink balloon and itch uncontrollably for a while. For this reason, I abstain from eating almost any sea dwelling crustaceans. Prawns, bugs, and lobster are all off the menu for me.

And then there’s crab…
I love crab. I can’t help it, it’s just so damn delicious. So once a year, I courageously don my seafood bib and eat crab; mountains of crab. The sheer joy of eating these appetizing arthropods is well worth the hours of discomfort and fat jokes that inevitably follow.
Over the years I have tried many types. Alaskan King crab legs served with spicy sausage, corn and potatoes in the Pacific North West; crunchy soft shell crab sliders in North Queensland; Maryland crab cakes in a dirty shack on the banks of the Patapsco River near Baltimore.  Yet, there is one dish that tops all these. One that has me salivating as I write and has inspired more than one journey across oceans to indulge.

The famous Singapore chilli crab is the king of all crab dishes; made from mud crabs stewed in sweet chilli, lime and fragrant herbs, served up with fried mantou to mop up the juices. It’s something everyone needs to try at least once in their lives, preferably while sipping an ice cold Singapore Sling and gazing out over the bright lights of Marina Bay. If however, a trip to Singapore doesn’t quite fit your budget, it is entirely possible to recreate from the comfort of your own kitchen.

Here is how.
Singapore Chilli Crab
You will need.

  • 1/4 Cup peanut oil
  • 1 Large live Mud Crab (Or any type you can get your hands on)
  • 1 Cup chopped tomatoes or passata (marinara)
  • 1 Cup fish or chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Sticks lemongrass
  • 2 Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp cornflour mixed with a bit of cold water
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 Bunch coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped

Chilli Paste
  • 1 Sliced white onion
  • 4 Cloves garlic
  • 6 Large red chillies, deseeded
  • *1 tsp shrimp paste (optional)

Singapore Chilli Crab
Prepare the crab by placing it in the freezer for an hour to put it to sleep. Then remove the top shell and discard the gills. Divide the crab into 2-4 pieces, and twist off the claws.
Blend together the onion, garlic and chilli to form a paste. If you don’t have a food processor you can buy ready-made jars of chilli paste at your local Asian food store. 
Heat your wok to medium and add in the oil. Fry the paste for about five minutes until fragrant, careful not to burn it.
Add your crab (shell and all) and season with a pinch of sea salt and some fresh cracked pepper. Give it a toss, and then add your tomatoes, stock, sugar, vinegar, lemongrass, lime leaves and soy sauce.
Cover the wok, turn down the heat and simmer the crab for 10 - 15 minutes. Add in your spring onions, corn flour mix, the juice of half a lime and a few pinches of coriander, and season the sauce to taste. Simmer another few minutes until the sauce has thickened.
Finally, pour in the beaten egg, cover and let sit for 1 minute before stirring lightly. You're good to go!
We like to serve this straight in the wok, garnished heavily with the rest of your chopped coriander and a few wedges of lime.


 Mantou are steamed buns, originating from the northern provinces of China and common throughout the country. In Singapore they are traditionally fried and served as an accompaniment to Chilli crab. They are very easy to make, and while not essential to the dish, I really recommend taking the time to prepare them. They are delicious and perfect for mopping up the juices, or just eating on their own.
 What you need

2 Cups (300 g) flour
1 ½ tsp instant yeast
2/3 Cups (150 ml) warm water
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp salt.

Combine water, sugar and yeast, and set aside for 5 – 10 minutes, or until nice and foamy.
Add in your flour and salt, and bring together to form a ball. Knead vigorously for roughly 5 minutes, until the dough is nice and smooth. Cover the dough with a moist towel and set aside in a warm place to rise.
Once your dough has doubled in size, punch it down (amazing stress relief if you need it), and cut into 4 pieces. Roll into a thick rope and cut into 1 inch pieces. Place on parchment paper and let rise for another 30 minutes or so.
Heat up around 2 cups of oil in a wok, (or fire up the deep fryer) and carefully lower in the dough pieces with a slotted spoon. Fry for 1-2 minutes on either side until golden brown, then remove from oil, place on a paper towel to drain off excess oil and serve immediately.
That’s it. How easy was that? 


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