8.6.09

The Signature Food of Singapore: Chilli Crab



Here's to a long overdue post from Singapore Day in London. Ask any Singaporean what food represents Singapore and you'll hear Chilli Crab included in the list. I find this dish far more representative of the our culture than Chicken Rice (which is of Hainanese origin). Let me tell you why... Crab is one of the many seafood enjoyed in Singapore. Being able to have abundant seafood all year round is what makes us an island state. And not to mention how much we Singaporeans LOVE our seafood especially Crabs.

Next, Chilli is an important ingredient for any Singaporean dish. We like it HOT. And not just your average Paprika. Give us any dish but don't forget the chilli sauce or chilli paste and you'll have a happy Singaporean. Perhaps it's due to our geographical position (in Southeast Asia) where spices especially chillies are aplenty. Frying our national dish in Chilli Sauce is the definite answer.

When you visit Singapore, you'll find that Chilli Crabs can differ vastly from hawker to restaurant. Each cook has his special concoction of the Chilli Sauce for Chilli Crab and one has to queue or reserve in advance to get a table or seat at a famous Chilli Crab stall. I have tried ones that have Dark Soya Sauce and Dried Red Chillies (with Spring onions to add on to the flavour) to the ones in the picture which is just a plain Chilli Sauce with Eggs (whipped up and cooked .. we named it "Dan Hua" meaning "Egg Flower"). My mum does her own version of Pepper Crab which my whole family will kill for it each time she cooks it!

Somehow, the Dover Crabs in London just don't do the Singaporean dish a justice. The Dovers were a little softer and dissolved rapidly in the liquid that they were cooked in. Whereas the authentic Singaporean dish uses Sri Lankan crabs that are far smaller, sweeter and have tougher flesh suitable for longer periods of cooking.

Guess Chilli Crab has got to be the one dish that I will eat the moment I step foot on Singapore soil again!

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