Singapore chili crab recipe

Singapore Chili Crab is a vibrant and flavorful dish that’s a must-try for seafood lovers. This iconic Singaporean recipe combines the sweet meat of crab with a deliciously spicy tomato-based sauce.

Recipe origin

The origin of the Singapore Chili Crab, a beloved and iconic dish in Singapore, is often credited to Cher Yam Tian in the 1950s. Cher, with the help of her husband Lim Choon Ngee, began selling stir-fried crabs mixed with bottled chili and tomato sauce from a pushcart in Singapore. The dish quickly gained popularity, leading them to open a restaurant called Palm Beach Seafood.

Over time, the recipe for Singapore Chili Crab has evolved, incorporating various ingredients like eggs, vinegar, and sambal (a spicy chili paste) to create a more complex and flavorful sauce. Today, it stands as one of Singapore’s national dishes, celebrated for its spicy yet sweet and tangy flavors. The dish reflects Singapore’s rich culinary heritage, a blend of Chinese and Malay influences, and continues to be a favorite in seafood restaurants across the country.

Singapore chili crab recipe

Here’s how you can make it at home:


  • 2 live mud crabs (about 1 kg each) or equivalent in Dungeness crabs
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of finely chopped ginger
  • 2-3 red chilies (finely chopped, adjust to taste)
  • 2 cups of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of chicken stock or water
  • 2 tablespoons of chili sauce (or to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup of chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro (optional)


  1. Prepare the Crabs: Clean the crabs and chop them into pieces. Crack the claws and legs slightly with a mallet to let the sauce seep in.
  2. Make the Sauce: In a large wok or pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, and chilies, and sauté until fragrant.
  3. Add Liquids: Pour in the tomato sauce, chicken stock, chili sauce, sweet chili sauce, oyster sauce, and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Cook the Crabs: Add the crab pieces and cover the wok or pan. Let it simmer for about 10-12 minutes, or until the crabs are cooked through.
  5. Thicken the Sauce: Stir the cornstarch mixture into the sauce. Keep stirring until the sauce thickens slightly.
  6. Final Touches: Slowly pour the beaten egg into the wok while continuously stirring to create egg ribbons in the sauce.
  7. Garnish and Serve: Turn off the heat, add green onions and cilantro. Serve hot with steamed buns or rice.


  • Freshness of Crab: The freshness of the crab is crucial. Live crabs are preferred for the best taste and texture.
  • Adjusting Spiciness: You can adjust the spiciness of the dish by increasing or reducing the amount of chili and chili sauce.
  • Serving: Singapore Chili Crab is traditionally served with steamed or deep-fried buns (mantou) which are perfect for mopping up the delicious sauce.

Enjoy cooking this delightful dish! Singapore Chili Crab offers a perfect blend of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors, making it a memorable meal for any occasion.


Singapore Chili Crab, with its rich, spicy, and slightly sweet sauce, pairs wonderfully with several types of beverages. Here are some great options to consider:

  1. Riesling: A slightly sweet or off-dry Riesling works well with the spiciness of the chili. Its sweetness can counterbalance the heat, while its acidity can cut through the richness of the sauce.
  2. Sauvignon Blanc: This wine, with its crisp acidity and citrus notes, complements the tanginess of the dish.
  3. Chenin Blanc: A Chenin Blanc, especially from the Loire Valley, can be a great match with its balance of sweetness and acidity.
  4. Sparkling Wine: A Brut or Extra Brut sparkling wine can cleanse the palate with its effervescence and provide a refreshing contrast to the dish.
  5. Pale Ale or IPA: For beer lovers, a Pale Ale or an IPA can stand up to the robust flavors of the chili crab. The hoppiness of these beers can pair well with the spiciness.
  6. Lime Juice or Calamansi Juice: A non-alcoholic option like freshly squeezed lime or calamansi juice can provide a refreshing and citrusy counterpoint to the rich and spicy flavors of the crab.
  7. Ginger Beer: A non-alcoholic ginger beer offers a spicy kick that can complement the chili in the dish while adding a different flavor profile.

Remember, the best pairing is often one that suits your personal taste preferences, so feel free to experiment with different options!

Enjoy your Singapore chili crab 🦀🍺