Chilli Crab

Chilli Crab

Last day of the Chinese dish week and for this post we will be making a Singaporean Chinese dish called Chilli crab.

Chilli crab is one of the most popular dish in Singapore, it is made out of chopped fresh crabs stir fried in a sweet and savoury tomato and chilli based sauce. It was invented by Cher Yam Tian in 1950 when her husband suggested adding bottled chilli sauce to her crabs stir-fried with bottled tomato sauce. She started in a small pushcart and the business grew fast until she opened up a stall 6 years later in the Upper East Coast Road in Singapore. They then opened a restaurant called

Palm Beach in 1963 and sold the business in 1984. In 2000 her son Roland Lim opened a Roland restaurant

using the original recipe.

Despite its name this dish is not really hot, the sauce is semi-thick with hints of sweetness and spiciness but not overpowering. Usually paired with bread like baguette or Chinese buns but it goes well with rice.


3 large crabs
4 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp chili sauce
juice from half lemon
3 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 red onion, chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 long fresh red chilli (sweet and mild variant), sliced
3 pcs dried chillies
spring onion, chopped
peanut oil


1. In a pot add 1 cup of water and crabs, bring to a boil and simmer until crabs are cooked.
2. Remove the top shell of crab and grey gills, cut it in half and crack the legs and claws.
3. In a bowl mix ketchup, chili sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, lemon and 1/2 cup of water.
4. Pour oil in a wok then sauté garlic, ginger, onions and dried chillies in medium heat for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
5. Put heat on high then add the crabs and stir fry for a minute.
6. Pour the sauce and sliced chillies then add the cilantro, continue to stir fry for 5 minutes and make sure crabs are evenly coated with the sauce. Sauce should be reduced to a thicker consistency.
7. Place in a plate then serve garnished with spring oniones.

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28 thoughts on “Chilli Crab

  1. As one who grew up on the coast (and is not allergic!) I LOVE crab. Had some very tasty crab cakes today, in fact. Needless to say, the minute I saw the word “crab” in your post title I started to salivate!!

  2. Ok I’ll admit – crabs freak me out (I think due to a traumatic incident where my Ni put a crab on the floor and it attached my dog) but that looks SUPER GOOD.

    I wonder if I could get one of my aunts to do the crab part and I’ll do the stir fry part. Yummy!

  3. This look sooo good! The chili crabs I tried were from Jumbo in Singapore. And there was a really good Philippine version of it in Seafood Market in the Baclaran area – like a Dampa-style place. :D

  4. I am most certainly gonna miss Chinese Week. I have saved just about every recipe on here and can’t wait to make them. And this one looks equally delicious. I don’t really eat crab but I would try it again in this dish

  5. My husband will finish the entire plate if you let him. This looks good although I can’t eat spicy food and no more crab due to allergies I developed early 20s…(I love crabs!). This dish will be a very popular dish for my friends crowd. We all love crabs!

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