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Original Chilli Crab Recipe: Happy 51st National Day!

Happy National Day!

What better way to celebrate our 51st National Day than to enjoy our de facto National Dish?  But this is not just any other chilli crab recipe.  This is a recipe I developed which is closer to the original chilli crab that Mdm Cher Yam Keng served back in the 1950’s when she first introduced chilli crabs to the world.  The modern version which has sambal and eggs was introduced later by Chef Hooi, one of the legendary “Four Heavenly Chefs”.

The only place in Singapore I know which is still serving the original chilli crab is Roland restaurant.  The original version is not as spicy and heavy and is sweeter than the current day version.  The sauce is meant to complement and highlight the natural sweetness of the crabs.  I came across this version recently during a recent fishing trip to Sarawak and really enjoyed it. I am guessing that the original chilli crab idea might have made its way to Sarawak in the early days before the newer version and stayed that way till today. Personally, I prefer this over the eggy sambal version because I can enjoy the natural sweetness of the crabs.  Serve with toasted french loaf and eat on wooden bench for an authentic 50’s chilli crab experience!

Ingredients:

Crabs 2 (800g – 1.2 kg)
Garlic 4 cloves
Chilli 2
Ginger 3cm
Shallots 5
Spring onions 4 stalks  (Chop white bits and cut green bits to 3cm)
Pickled leeks 4
Calamansi limes 2x

Sauces and seasoning
Plum Sauce 8 Tbsp
Chilli Sauce 6 Tbsp
Tomato ketchup 3 Tbsp
Dark soy sauce 1 tsp (for colour)
Dashi powder or chicken stock powder 1 Tbsp
Potato starch 1 Tbsp dissolved in water
(Optional – Add chilli paste if you want it hotter)

Method

1.  Kill and prep crabs – Watch video
2.  Chop garlic, chilli, ginger, shallots, spring onions (white) and pickled leeks
3.  Heat 3 Tbsp oil and fry chopped ingredients except pickled leeks till fragrant.
4.  Add crab and toss to mix
5.  Mix the sauces and add to wok together with enough water so that 3/4 of the crabs are submerged.
6.  Bring to simmer and cover.  Cook for 8 minutes.
7.  Uncover, and continue to cook for another 7 mins, stirring occasionally.
8.  Add potato starch to thicken
9.  Add green part of spring onions, top with cilantro and serve with squeeze of calamansi lime.

Note:  Female crabs that are full of roe are best for this dish as the roe adds an extra richness to the sauce.