Chilli crab is a Singaporean seafood dish. Mud crabs are commonly used and are stir-fried in a semi-thick, sweet and savoury tomato and chilli based sauce.



  • 1 large live mud crab, cleaned
  • 60 ml(¼ cup) vegetable oil
  • ¼ tspsalt
  • 250 ml(1 cup) tomato passata (or 1x 400 g can crushed tomatoes)
  • 250 ml(1 cup) fish stock or chicken stock or water
  • 2 tbspfinely grated palm sugar
  • 1 tbspwhite vinegar
  • 1 tbspsoy sauce
  • 1 tspcornflour mixed with 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1egg, lightly beaten
  • 20 gbutter
  • 3spring onions, green ends only, cut into 5 cm lengths
  • thinly sliced red bird’s eye chilli and coriander sprigs

How To Prepare

  1. To dispatch the crab humanely before preparing, place it in the freezer for 1 hour to put it to sleep. Pull the top shell (carapace) away from the body and discard the gills but reserve any of the yellowish tomalley from the head and the top shell. Twist off the claws, then using a cleaver or large heavy knife, divide the body into four pieces with two legs on each piece.

2. To make the base paste, place all the ingredients in a blender and process until a smooth paste forms.

3. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. When hot, fry the paste for 5 minutes or until fragrant and the oil separates from the solids. Add the crab (including the shell) and salt and toss until the crab starts to change colour. Add the passata, stock, sugar, vinegar and soy sauce and toss to coat. Stir in the crab tomalley. Cover the wok and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove the crab pieces from the wok and place on a large platter.

4. Stirring continuously, slowly drizzle the cornflour mixture into the wok, followed by the beaten egg, then the butter and spring onions. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Pour the sauce over the crab, then scatter with coriander and chilli and serve immediately, with finger bowls and plenty of napkins.