Spice Up Your Palate: Exploring Chilli Crab in Singapore – Seaco Online
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Spice Up Your Palate: Exploring Chilli Crab in Singapore

When it comes to iconic dishes, few are as famous as Singapore's chilli crab. This national dish is a must-try for anyone visiting Singapore, and it's easy to see why. The dish is made by stir-frying crab in a sweet and spicy sauce, which is then served with buns for dipping. The result is a flavour explosion that you won't soon forget.

A steaming plate of chili crab sits on a red checkered tablecloth, surrounded by empty shells and small dishes of chili sauce

The origins of chilli crab are somewhat disputed, with some claiming that it was invented in the 1950s by a Singaporean chef named Cher Yam Tian. Others argue that the dish has a longer history, dating back to the early 20th century. Regardless of its origins, there's no denying that chilli crab has become a beloved part of Singaporean cuisine.

If you're planning a trip to Singapore, you simply can't miss out on trying this iconic dish. There are plenty of restaurants throughout the city that serve up delicious chilli crab, and each has its own unique take on the dish. Whether you're a seafood lover or just looking to try something new, chilli crab is a must-try when visiting Singapore.

Key Takeaways

  • Singapore's chilli crab is an iconic dish that you won't want to miss when visiting the city.
  • The origins of the dish are somewhat disputed, but it's clear that it has become a beloved part of Singaporean cuisine.
  • There are plenty of restaurants throughout Singapore that serve up delicious chilli crab, making it easy to find a version of the dish that suits your tastes.

Origins and Cultural Significance

A steaming plate of chilli crab sits on a banana leaf, surrounded by vibrant spices and herbs. In the background, the iconic Singapore skyline looms, symbolizing the fusion of tradition and modernity in the dish's cultural significance

Historical Background

Chilli crab is a beloved dish in Singapore, known for its savoury tomato and chilli sauces. The dish is said to have been invented by Cher Yam Tian in the mid-1950s, a local cook who added bottled chilli sauce to her dish of stir-fried crabs, instead of using tomato sauce, her usual ingredient. In 1956, she and her husband began selling the dish from a pushcart along the seaside.

Since then, chilli crab has become an iconic dish in Singapore, enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. It is often served with mantou, a type of steamed bun, to soak up the delicious sauce.

Culinary Influence

Chilli crab is a testament to Singapore's multicultural heritage, blending Chinese, Malay, and Indian flavours. The dish has become a symbol of the country's diverse culinary landscape and is often served at special occasions and family gatherings.

In addition to chilli crab, Singapore is also known for other traditional dishes such as coffee pork ribs and Hainanese chicken rice. These dishes reflect the country's rich culinary history and the influence of its immigrant communities.

One of the most famous restaurants in Singapore for chilli crab is Roland Restaurant, which has been serving the dish for over 60 years. The restaurant's founder, Madam Cher Yam Tian, is credited with inventing the dish and it remains a popular menu item to this day.

The Culinary Experience

A steaming plate of chilli crab sits on a rustic wooden table, surrounded by scattered chillies and aromatic spices. The vibrant red sauce glistens under the warm light, inviting the viewer to savor the culinary experience

Ingredients and Preparation

Chilli crab is a popular seafood dish in Singapore that is known for its spicy and sweet sauce. The dish is made using fresh and meaty crabs that are cooked with a variety of spices and ingredients such as garlic, ginger, red chilli, tomato paste, and black pepper sauce. The sauce is typically thick and starchy, and it is often served with fried mantou or steamed rice.

To prepare the dish, the crabs are first cleaned and then stir-fried with the spices and ingredients until they are tender and succulent. The sauce is then added to the pan, and the crabs are simmered until they are fully cooked. Some restaurants may also add eggs or salted egg yolk to the dish to enhance the flavour.

Dining Recommendations

If you're looking to try some delicious chilli crab in Singapore, there are plenty of restaurants and hawker centres that serve this popular dish. Here are some dining recommendations:

  • Long Beach Seafood: This restaurant is known for its authentic and high-quality chilli crab. The dish is served with fried mantou and a delicious gravy that is made using fresh tomatoes and spices.

  • Mellben Seafood: This restaurant is a popular destination for chilli crab enthusiasts. Their rendition of this classic dish boasts fresh, succulent crab drenched in a rich and flavourful sauce that strikes the perfect balance between spiciness and sweetness.

  • Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant: This restaurant is located along the Singapore River and is known for its affordable and delicious chilli crab. The dish is served with steamed rice and fried mantou.

  • Kelly Jie Seafood: This restaurant is located in Toa Payoh and is known for its satisfying and flavourful chilli crab. The dish is made using live mud crabs and a homemade sambal sauce that is spicy and delicious.

Frequently Asked Questions

A steaming plate of chilli crab sits on a checkered tablecloth, surrounded by empty plates and a pair of chopsticks. A bustling Singaporean hawker center provides the backdrop

Where can I find the best chilli crab in Singapore?

Singapore is known for its delicious seafood, and chilli crab is one of the most popular dishes in the country. There are many restaurants that serve this iconic dish, but some of the best places to try include JUMBO Seafood Restaurant, Long Beach Seafood Restaurant, and No Signboard Seafood Restaurant. These restaurants are known for their high-quality ingredients, delicious sauces, and excellent service.

How much should I expect to pay for chilli crab in Singapore?

The price of chilli crab in Singapore can vary depending on the restaurant and the size of the crab. On average, you can expect to pay between $50 and $80 for a medium-sized crab. However, some restaurants may charge more for larger crabs or for additional side dishes.

Can you recommend a good chilli crab recipe?

If you're looking to make chilli crab at home, there are many great recipes available online. One popular recipe is from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, which features a spicy tomato-based sauce and fresh crab. However, if you're not comfortable cooking seafood, it's best to leave it to the experts and visit a restaurant instead.

Which restaurants are known for their chilli crab in Singapore?

As mentioned earlier, JUMBO Seafood Restaurant, Long Beach Seafood Restaurant, and No Signboard Seafood Restaurant are all known for their delicious chilli crab. Other popular restaurants include Red House Seafood, Roland Restaurant, and Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant.

Are there any hawker centres that serve great chilli crab?

Yes, there are several hawker centres in Singapore that serve delicious chilli crab. Some popular options include Newton Food Centre, East Coast Lagoon Food Village, and Chomp Chomp Food Centre. These hawker centres offer a more casual and affordable dining experience compared to traditional restaurants.

What makes Singaporean chilli crab so famous?

Singaporean chilli crab is famous for its sweet, savoury, and spicy tomato-based sauce that complements the fresh crab meat perfectly. The dish originated from a humble street food culture in the 1950s and has since become a beloved national dish. The combination of fresh seafood, bold flavours, and unique cooking techniques has made chilli crab a must-try dish for anyone visiting Singapore.