A Spicy and Savoury Delight: Chinese Chili Crab Recipe – Seaco Online
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A Spicy and Savoury Delight: Chinese Chili Crab Recipe

Originating from Singapore and Malaysia, the Chinese chilli crab recipe is a popular and authentic East and South East Asian delicacy that is sure to impress your guests. The dish is known for its spicy and tangy sauce that pairs perfectly with the succulent crab meat.

A wok sizzles with red chili crab in a fragrant sauce, surrounded by garlic, ginger, and green onions on a wooden table

Essential ingredients for this recipe include fresh crab, garlic, ginger, chili, tomato paste, and rice vinegar. The preparation of the crab involves cleaning and cutting it into pieces, which can be a messy but necessary process. Cooking techniques involve stir-frying the garlic, ginger, and chili in oil, adding the crab pieces, and then simmering the mixture in the sauce until the crab is cooked. The dish is traditionally served with steamed buns or rice.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese chili crab is a delicious and spicy seafood dish originating from Singapore and Malaysia.
  • Key ingredients include fresh crab, garlic, ginger, chili, tomato paste, and rice vinegar.
  • The dish is traditionally served with steamed buns or rice, and seafood lovers can experiment with different types of crab or other seafood.

Essential Ingredients

A steaming wok sizzles with red chili crab, surrounded by ginger, garlic, and green onions. A bowl of spicy sauce sits nearby

When it comes to making Chinese chili crab, certain ingredients are essential to achieve the perfect balance of flavours. In this section, we will discuss the key ingredients that you will need to make this delicious dish.

Selecting the Perfect Crab

The star of the show is, of course, the crab. It is important to select a live crab for the freshest taste. You can use any type of crab you prefer, but the most commonly used are mud crabs, Dungeness crabs or blue crabs. If you are unable to find live crabs, you can also use frozen crab meat, but it won't have the same texture and flavour as fresh crab.

Key Spices and Condiments

To make the perfect chili crab sauce, you will need several key spices and condiments. These include garlic, ginger, chilli, shallots, egg, sugar, salt, vinegar, ketchup, soy beans, tomato paste, shrimp paste, fresh coriander and spring onion.

Garlic and ginger provide a strong, aromatic flavour, while chilli adds heat to the dish. Shallots are used for their sweet and mild onion flavour, while eggs help to thicken the sauce. Sugar is added to balance out the spiciness, and salt is used to enhance the overall flavour.

Vinegar adds a tangy taste to the sauce, while ketchup provides a sweet and sour flavour. Soy beans are used to make soy sauce, which gives the dish a savoury taste. Tomato paste is used to give the sauce a rich, red colour, while shrimp paste is added for its umami taste.

Fresh coriander and spring onion are used as garnishes to add freshness and colour to the dish. If you want to add more seafood to the dish, you can also use prawns or lobster meat to create a seafood medley.

Selecting the perfect crab and using the right combination of spices and condiments are crucial to making a delicious Chinese chili crab. With the right ingredients and a little bit of effort, you can create a mouth-watering dish that will impress your family and friends.

Preparing the Crab

A wok sizzles with red chili sauce, as a crab is being expertly prepared, its shell glistening with the spicy glaze

If you want to make a delicious Chinese chili crab, the first step is to prepare the crab properly. Here are the steps to follow:

Cleaning and Cutting

  1. Start by cleaning the live crab. Rinse it thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt or debris.
  2. Use a cleaver to cut off the crab's apron, which is the flap of shell on the underside of the crab. Discard this part.
  3. Flip the crab over and remove the top shell. You can do this by gently pulling it away from the body of the crab. Set the top shell aside.
  4. Remove the gills and any other internal organs from the body of the crab. Rinse the crab again to remove any remaining debris.
  5. Cut the crab into quarters or eighths, depending on the size of the crab.

Cracking the Shell

  1. Use a pair of kitchen shears or a crab cracker to crack the shell of each piece of crab. This will make it easier to eat the meat later on.
  2. Be sure to crack the claws and legs as well, so that you can easily access the meat inside.
  3. If you are using soft-shell crabs, you do not need to crack the shell. Simply remove the gills and internal organs, and rinse the crab.

For the best results, use live mud crab or brown crab when making Chinese chili crab. These types of crab have a sweet, delicate flavour that pairs well with the spicy sauce. If you cannot find live crab, you can also use frozen crab. However, be sure to thaw it completely before cooking.

Seafood is a great addition to this recipe. You can add prawns or squid to the dish to make it even more delicious. If you do decide to add seafood, be sure to use fresh or frozen seafood that has been thawed completely before cooking.

Cooking Techniques

A wok sizzles with red chili crab, stir-fried in fragrant garlic and ginger, with a splash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of green onions

Mastering the Wok

Cooking Chinese Chilli Crab requires a specific cooking technique to achieve the perfect texture and flavour. The most important tool you will need is a wok. A wok is a versatile, deep, and round-bottomed pan that allows for even heat distribution. It is perfect for stir-frying, deep-frying, and steaming. When using a wok, it is essential to get the temperature right. The wok should be heated until it is smoking hot before adding oil. Once the oil is added, it should be heated until it is almost smoking before adding the crab.

When cooking the crab, it is important to stir-fry it quickly to avoid overcooking. Overcooked crab will become tough and lose its flavour. To ensure the crab is cooked evenly, it is recommended to use a pair of tongs to turn it over regularly.

Sauce Creation

The sauce is the heart of the Chinese Chilli Crab recipe. It is essential to get the balance of flavours right to create a delicious sauce that complements the crab. The sauce should have a perfect blend of sweetness, spiciness, sourness, saltiness, and umami.

To create the sauce, you will need a mixture of ingredients such as sweet chilli sauce, chilli paste, bean sauce, and stock. You can also add a cornstarch and water mixture to thicken the sauce and create a gravy-like consistency.

When creating the sauce, it is important to taste it regularly to ensure that the flavours are balanced. If the sauce is too sweet, add more sourness. If it is too sour, add more sweetness. If it is too spicy, add more sweetness or sourness.

Proposed seafood: For this recipe, mud crab is the traditional crab used, prized for its sweet and meaty flesh. However, any big crab can be used for this recipe. You can also use prawns or other seafood if you prefer.

Serving and Garnishing

A platter of Chinese chili crab, adorned with fresh cilantro and red chili slices, is being served on a white ceramic plate


When serving Chinese chilli crab, it is recommended to serve it alongside some accompaniments to complement its rich, spicy flavour. Steamed Chinese buns, also known as mantou, are a popular choice to soak up the delicious sauce. You can also serve crusty bread or rice to provide a more filling meal.

Seafood lovers can also add some prawns or mussels to the dish to enhance the seafood flavour. If you opt for seafood, make sure to use fresh and high-quality seafood to ensure the best taste.

Final Touches

To give your Chinese chilli crab an extra pop of flavour, garnish it with some fresh coriander and thinly sliced chillies. Spring onions are also a great addition to add some crunch and freshness to the dish.

When serving, arrange the crab pieces in a large, shallow serving dish, and pour the sauce over the top. Garnish with the fresh coriander and green onion, and thinly sliced chillies. Finally, serve the dish with the accompaniments of your choice.

With these simple garnishes and accompaniments, your Chinese chilli crab will be transformed into a delicious and satisfying meal that is sure to impress your guests.

Nutritional Information and Tips

A steaming plate of Chinese chili crab with a side of steamed vegetables, accompanied by a printed sheet of nutritional information and cooking tips

If you're looking for a delicious and easy-to-make seafood dish, Chinese chili crab is a great option. Not only is it packed with flavour, but it's also a good source of protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Here's a breakdown of the nutritional information for one serving of Chinese chili crab (based on a recipe that serves four people):

Nutrient Amount per serving
Calories 370
Protein 30g
Fat 20g
Carbohydrates 17g
Fibre 2g
Sodium 1200mg

As you can see, Chinese chili crab is a relatively low-calorie dish that's high in protein and healthy fats. However, it's also relatively high in sodium, so if you're watching your salt intake, you may want to enjoy this dish in moderation.

If you're looking for ways to make this recipe even healthier, you can try using whole wheat noodles or brown rice instead of white rice. You can also add more vegetables to the dish, such as broccoli or bok choy, to increase the fibre content.

If you're short on time, you can use pre-cooked crab meat instead of fresh crab, which will save you time and effort. You can also freeze any leftover crab meat for later use.

One thing to keep in mind when cooking with seafood is to choose sustainable options whenever possible. Look for crab that's been caught using sustainable fishing methods, such as potting or trap fishing. You can also try using other types of sustainable seafood, such as shrimp or mussels, in this recipe if you prefer.

Overall, Chinese chili crab is a delicious and nutritious dish that's sure to impress your family and friends. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

Frequently Asked Questions

A steaming hot chili crab dish sits on a round plate, surrounded by scattered chili peppers and fresh green herbs. The vibrant red sauce glistens in the light, tempting the viewer with its spicy aroma

What are the key ingredients for a chilli crab sauce?

The key ingredients for a chilli crab sauce are fresh chillies, garlic, ginger, tomato sauce, sugar, and vinegar. Some recipes also call for other ingredients like oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

How do you make a simple chilli crab dish at home?

To make a simple chilli crab dish at home, you will need fresh crabs, chilli paste, tomato sauce, sugar, and vinegar. First, clean and prepare the crabs. Then, make the chilli paste by blending fresh chillies, garlic, and ginger. Next, sauté the chilli paste in a wok until fragrant. Add the crabs and stir-fry until they turn red. Finally, add the tomato sauce, sugar, and vinegar, and cook until the sauce thickens.

Which recipe is considered the best for authentic chilli crab?

There are many recipes for authentic chilli crab, but the most popular one is the Singaporean recipe. This recipe uses fresh mud crabs and a blend of fresh chillies, garlic, and ginger to create a spicy and flavourful sauce.

What's the secret to achieving the perfect Singapore-style chilli crab?

The secret to achieving the perfect Singapore-style chilli crab is to use fresh, live mud crabs and to make the chilli paste from scratch using fresh ingredients. It's also important to cook the crabs just until they turn red and to not overcook them, as this can make the meat tough and dry.

What are the traditional accompaniments to serve with chilli crab?

The traditional accompaniments to serve with chilli crab are mantou (steamed buns) and white rice. The mantou are used to soak up the delicious sauce, while the rice helps to balance out the spiciness of the dish.

How does the Malaysian chilli crab recipe differ from the Singaporean version?

The Malaysian chilli crab recipe is similar to the Singaporean version, but it typically uses a sweeter sauce and may include additional ingredients like tamarind paste and belacan (shrimp paste). Additionally, the Malaysian version may use different types of crabs, such as flower crabs or blue swimmer crabs.