Scrumptious Singapore: Chili Crab and Friends

September 20, 2010 By: Serena

Since most of you expressed interest in the yummy chili crab pictured in my teaser post, I’m starting our food journey through Singapore here!   While the chili crab is by far the most renowned of the Singapore crab dishes, I had the opportunity to sample some other varieties.  Dare I say – my favorite crab dish in Singapore was not of the chili variety??

Before I get into the different types of crab dishes, let’s talk about the crab.

This ginormous crab is known as the mud crab and is native to Asia, Australia and Africa – no mud crabs here, boo!  At their very largest, they can grow up to 7.5lbs, far out pacing our dungeness crab.  The meat is distinctively crabby in taste, but lobster-sized.  One of my gripes about eating crab is too much effort, too little reward.  With the mud crab, the reward is definitely worth the effort.

Enough background though, let’s get right down to business!

Each restaurant has a slightly different chili crab recipe.  I had chili crab twice – the crab in the first photo had a sweeter chili sauce, while the one below was spicier:

The sauce is tomato-based, although sweet and spicy chili sauce is the predominant flavor.  The sauce is finger-licking good; we ordered some mantou, or slightly sweet bread, to sop up the extra sauce.  Once we finished the mantou, it was just some straight spoon-to-mouth action!

The drooling doesn’t just stop at chili crab.  Another equally scrumptious variation is the black pepper crab, fried and cooked in a thick black pepper gravy.  You can almost feel your nose tickle from the sight of our cilantro-wearing friend here:

Some restaurants are known for their chili crab while others are known for their black pepper variety. But I don’t discriminate – I’ll eat it all, including our next variety – the white pepper crab:

Because one type of pepper crab is just not enough, we’re throwing white pepper into the mix. Boasting a more delicate (yet just as sneeze-inducing) flavor than the black pepper variety, the white pepper crab has a lighter sauce and cleaner flavor.  I still favor the black-pepper, but I won’t refuse a white pepper crab if placed in front of me.  Oh, and FYI – that’s a “small” crab pictured above (it was about the size of a dodgeball).

And finally, call me a crazy American – but my favorite was neither the chili nor the pepper crab.  It was the salted egg crab, pictured here in all its glory:

I might be a little biased since I grew up on salted eggs, but the salted egg crab was awwwesome!  Sweet, salty, the slightest bit briny, and delightfully eggy, we devoured one and ordered another. If they sold this in NYC, I would be all over this.

There you have it – crabs the size of many small dogs here in NYC, smothered in lusciously sweet and salty gravies, with bread to sop up all that heavenly goodness.  It’s no wonder that I was dreaming about my next crab meal as I walked out of the restaurant.  Next up – the famed Hainanese chicken rice!

Which crab flavor would you try?

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12 Comments to “Scrumptious Singapore: Chili Crab and Friends”


  1. I would try them all. I do love Black Pepper crab. A family friend used to make it all the time.

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  2. I'm the opposite of you, I think I would prefer the sweeter chili crab and the white pepper. Salted egg crab? I would definitely try it! Man them things are GI-NORMOUS!

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  3. Mrs. Hot Cocoa says:

    I love the taste of chili and black pepper crab, but I'm too lazy to eat crabs — all that cracking is too much work. Sigh.

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  4. PartyPlannerGal says:

    Yum! They all look great but I'd be curious to try the white pepper crab – I love white pepper, and it can pack quite a punch!

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  5. All of them please. Crab is my ultimate favorite food ever. I love crab with sauce, like these… where you have to suck it off of the outside, then crack it open for the meat. Mmm. I kind of think it's hilarious that the white pepper crab looks like it's vomiting scallions.

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  6. Ohhh my goodness. Chili crab all the way! Although, I think I'd also have to try the black pepper. I just can't get enough of spicy food…

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  7. Chic 'n Cheap Living says:

    I love salted egg and am surprised I haven't tried it myself! Next time!

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  8. The black pepper crab looks amazing! I love pepper on everything. I'd also like to try the salted egg crab, because I've never had salted eggs before!

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  9. honey my heart says:

    my mouth is watering! salted egg crab sounds like my favorite. mmm. yum.

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  10. THE ALTERNATIVE WIFE says:

    YUM!!! I'll take them all myself :)

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  11. Kelly @ The Startup Wife says:

    Um, all of them. Thanks.

    those look soooooo good! I've been looking forward to all your recaps of the trip! (And now you're going to Africa??? Too jealous for words! I can't wait to see what you eat there. Mmmm.)

    I just ate the hugest dinner ever–it was an AYCE buffet, so I'm not exaggerating when I say the hugest EVER–and this still makes me hungry. You describe food so well!

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  12. I just first learned about salted crab on this last season of Top Chef. Your description is making my mouth drool.

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