A visit to Singapore will not be complete if you do not treat your taste buds to the culinary wonder that is Chilli Crab – the crowning glory of all crab dishes in Singapore. Walk into almost any seafood restaurant and you will be served this delicious dish, typically made with mud crabs to add a unique sweetness to its juicy flesh.
According to popular belief, this world renowned dish has its origins in a pushcart, circa 1956. A husband-wife duo who were running the business were getting tired of serving crab the same way – steamed. Therefore, the story goes, the husband asked the wife to experiment with other methods of cooking crab. Initial dish, made by Madam Cher Yam Tian, was stir-fried crab served with a tangy tomato sauce. As tasty as the dish was, she felt that more of a kick is needed on the taste buds and decided to swap tomato sauce with chilli sauce, giving birth to the first version of famous Chilli Crab dish. The pushcart sold these Chilli Crab along Kallang River, which became so in demand that the duo opened their own restaurant.
The modern Chilli Crab, however, is an improved version from Madam Cher’s. A famous chef of Dragon Phoenix restaurant is said to be the creative mind behind the addition of sambal, tomato paste, and eggs to the gravy, removing bottled chilli and tomato sauces. It is this version that is now being served all across Singapore and has people flocking to the restaurants.
If you stay at one of Singapore apartment hotels it would be difficult to find this dish on their menu, so simply walk over to the nearest seafood restaurant and take one to the apartment. If you are staying at a central location such as Somerset Orchard Singapore, this should not be a problem at all. Don’t forget to grab a few mantou (steaming buns) to dip in the leftover gravy; for the gravy, is the best part of the entire dish. Sweet and savoury, spicy and satisfying, you will have to exert extreme willpower not to lick your fingers once you crack open the crab shells.

Intrigued by history, art and food, Lavinia Woolf is a writer who is passionate about the extraordinary and writes of the exhilarating and enchanting. Google+