Chilli Crab: History, Speciality, How to Eat, and Where to Eat it in Singapore

May 11, 2021

Chilli crab is one of the most popular dishes of Singapore and it is a signature recipe that includes vast culinary influence. This dish is a reason for national pride for locals in Singapore and it is recommended as a must-try dish for foreigners who visit the island city-state. It is also a testament to the unique local cuisine of the country. Singapore is always proud of this iconic dish as it carries the island state's rich history.

History of Chilli Crab

The dish was first introduced in Singapore in 1956 when the pair Lim Choon Ngee and Cher Yam Tian started a food stall near the Kallang River. They initially used charcoal fire and wooden tables and seats to treat their guests and began to slowly grow their reputation. The restaurateurs stuck to cooking and serving what they were best at - yummy seafood. They soon became popular and many Singaporeans started to buzz about the stall. The pair and the food stall quickly gained a huge following of crab lovers across the country. This made them upgrade their kitchen and they moved to a big premise on the Upper East Coast Road situated on Bedok Beach.

What Makes Chill Crab Extra-Delicious?

The pair were doing things quite differently and their secret to the deliciousness was the chilli crab sauce they used. They avoided using the common tomato sauce to prepare the dish. Instead, they used improvised hot sauce to get a combination of sweet, tangy, and spicy flavour to the dish that gets people hooked onto the dish with the first bite.

Soon, the other chefs in Singapore caught on and tried to develop their versions of Chilli crab. A local pioneer Hooi Kok Wah was quite successful with his attempt at making chilli crab. He added some extra ingredients such as egg white, tomato paste, lemon juice, vinegar, and sambal into it to enhance its taste.

However, using chilli sauce is not the ultimate secret to make this delicious dish. The quality of the crab also has prime importance - the more meat the crab has the yummier it tastes. The most used crab for making this dish is mud crab and it comes mostly from Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines. The crab is initially deep-fried in hot oil, and it is allowed to cool before it is taken for frying again in the chilli sauce. The final frying makes the crab more juicy and tender.

How to Eat this Iconic Dish?

You don't need a knife and fork to have this dish as it is cooked to perfection to make the meat tender. Crab lovers normally dig in this dish with their hands in local seafood restaurants in Singapore. However,  you may use nutcrackers and mallets to dig into the tough parts of the shell. Doing the cracking, smashing, and peeling along with enjoying the aroma is what makes eating this dish more fun. Many restaurants also serve Chinese steamed buns known as "mantou" to mop up the saucy leftovers of the meal.

Where to Eat the Best Chilli Crab in Singapore?

Momma Kong’s

Most Singaporeans travel to Chinatown to sample the famous chilli crab from Momma Kong’s situated at 34 Mosque Street. This popular restaurant is also famous for serving other delicacies such as butter crab and crab bee hoon soup in addition to chilli crab. It is a must-visit restaurant for everyone who likes to have delicious chilli crab.

Uncle Leong Seafood

Uncle Leong Seafood has two locations in the island city-state and thus it helps you to satisfy your craving for chilli crab. The restaurant dishes out several flavours of crab, so it gives you a good opportunity to taste dishes like creamy butter crab, black pepper crab, salted egg crab, clay pot curry crab, and more. All these are worth a try!

Jumbo Seafood

This restaurant was opened at the East Coast Seafood Centre in 1987. It is famous for delivering massive amounts of flavour. The loyal following for this restaurant started to grow quickly and thus it has opened six outlets in Singapore. Three of them are in Shanghai; there are nine others across China as well. This restaurant serves the meatiest crabs with an intoxicating spicy, sour and sweet sauce. The restaurant also has a huge dining area with a lot of outdoor seating facing the ocean.

Alliance Seafood

Alliance Seafood is a small but popular eatery situated in the Newton Food Centre. This eatery has been in operation for thirty years and has established itself quite well. You can see the national dish of Singapore flung from the window of the shop daily. The place serves a range of seafood dishes available such as chilli crab, BBQ stingray and crunchy cereal prawns. The chilli crab available at this place is fresh, tender, and juicy. The place keeps gloves and tissue papers ready for their guests if their first experience of eating crab with hands gets messy.

Keng Eng Kee

A Singaporean couple started it and then handed down to their heirs. But the incredible flavours of this place are still improving. This is a place that doesn't look big from outside, but the chilli crab they serve is so good that the place got really good attention from the makers of a Netflix series named "Street Food." However, Keng Eng Kee’s crab is famous even before this recognition. They particularly use a sauce made using sambal, lime, chilli eggs, and seafood stock to coat the crab. The place is also famous for serving crab bee hoon, pepper crab, and salted egg crab.

Tekong Seafood Restaurant

This restaurant is popular all over Singapore for treating people with the island city state’s best crab lovers for over thirty-five years. It also has a very big charming outdoor and an extremely spacious dining area. The place keeps on introducing fabulously delicious dishes. You can simply crack into this restaurant to taste some good chilli crab while enjoying the Singapore weather.

Long Beach Seafood

This restaurant mainly serves premium seafood dishes in five famous venues in the city. The chilli crab of this place is famous for its sweet and tangy flavour; it also serves many other varieties of seafood. It is one of the original spots in Singapore to get black pepper crab, golden stripe lobster, as well as white pepper live Alaskan king crab dish.

Sendhelper Home Chef Services in Singapore

You can enjoy freshly prepared chilli crab at home by hiring a local home chef on the Sendhelper app. We will also help you procure fresh crab and other ingredients. All you need to do is book your preferred time and date in the app.

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