Singaporean Chili Crabs

Let me just start by saying for a city that’s defined by its unique culinary identity, this meal was a winner amongst many close competitors.

OK. Now that that’s clear, I hadn’t even heard of “chili crab” before helping my sister move to Singapore this year. It wasn’t until our last meal in Singapore that I was introduced to this savory dish. Lets just say it was a very nice “thank you” for helping to unpack 166 boxes.

When we arrived at Red House – a massive restaurant by Robertson Quay – I looked around and immediately noticed a few things:

  • Hand washing stations in the dining room
  • Guests wearing bibs
  • Plates and plates of seafood on every table

I lost all composure at this point and started clapping my hands as I beamed with excitement.

Since this was foreign territory, I completely let go of the ordering reigns and deferred to my sister, who insisted that we order the signature chili crab as well as the white and black pepper crabs.

So you might be wondering, what is chili crab? Well, it’s like a savory/sweet tomato based sauce that the crab is simmered in. Thicker than a curry, it binds really well to the crab shell making it excellent for eating with your fingers. Ironically, it’s not as spicy as you would imagine given its name. This dish also comes with toasted loaves of bread or “Mantou” that are absolutely ideal for dipping. It’s a wickedly good combination.

Unlike my hairy crab adventure, there was significant amounts of meat in these shells. Every bite yielded sweet and firm crab meat. That is such a hard statement to make about eating crab back home.

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The signature dish and star of the evening: Singaporean chili crab.

Additionally, we ordered two other variations that used a dry-ish rub instead: white pepper and black pepper crabs. Both have such distinct heat profiles to them, but are equally delicious. Given that they’re drier in texture, I felt as though they actually complimented the crab meat (and their natural flavors better) because you’re not swallowing mouthfuls of sauce with each bite. Let’s be honest though, it was all absolutely incredible.

UNREAL white pepper crab.
The black pepper crab. What an explosion of flavours.

Thankfully I’m going to be stopping over in Singapore on my way home at the end of this trip, meaning there will definitely be a follow up to this.

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