My wonderful man and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary last month. Having just settled back in Oz, with our stuff still in transit, with my future in the working world still in limbo and with our savings dwindling a little – we thought a quiet little home-made celebration was in order.
There’s nothing better or more satisfying than to cook the hubby a meal that he craves for. Thanks to a programme on SBS called Flavours of Singapore, we were both gawking longingly at a recent episode featuring Singapore Chilli Crab and that gave me the idea to cook the dish for our anniversary dinner.
The challenge was getting mud crabs from the market. This dish works best with big, fat and juicy mud crabs, but they are not as common as Blue Swimmer Crabs and as expected, I could not find any. So these would have to do.
Fortunately, the blue swimmer crabs were of good size and beautifully blue. Look at those colours!
Cleaning crabs is not as daunting a task as you may imagine. It was tricky having hands full of crabby bits and taking photos, so I don’t have step by step ones to show you. I’m sure there’s a youtube video somewhere out there that you can follow.
I love watching the crabs change colours as they cook. They turn into a gorgeous shade of vermillion and not to forget – the amazing aroma!
After trying out a few recipes, I find this one to be most authentic. The key to good chilli crab is in the sauce. The sweet, slightly spicy sauce lightly laced with egg chiffon is what makes the mess from eating crabs worth its while.
The plus point of eating at home meant we could do away with table manners and niceties and lick, slurp, smack our lips and fingers all we wanted without a care. It doesn’t make for a very romantic anniversary meal, but we totally loved it.
Happy Anniversary babe. Thanks for being my best friend, lover and partner. Maybe chilli crabs could be an anniversary tradition from now on eh?
SINGAPORE CHILLI CRABS
adapted from Almost Bourdain
3 medium swimmer crabs, cleaned and quartered (two mud crabs would have been better!)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp chopped ginger
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 chilli, seed removed and finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
5 tbsp tomato ketchup (don’t diss it, it’s an essential ingredient!)
4 tbsp Sweet Chilli Sauce (I used Thai sweet chilli sauce)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp sugar
3/4 cup water
2 tsp cornflour
parsley or spring onions for garnishing
- In a very hot wok, add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and fry the crabs until they have turned orange, about 8 – 10 minutes. Remove from wok and set aside.
- Add a little more oil to the wok if necessary and fry garlic, ginger, chilli and onion until fragrant.
- Mix tomato ketchup, sweet chilli sauce, water, lime juice and corn flour in a bowl.
- Add the sauce mixture to the wok, along with the crabs, cover and bring it to a boil. Feel free to adjust the seasoning by adding more ketchup, chilli sauce or lime juice, according to your preference.
- Drizzle the lightly beaten egg into the sauce. Stir through.
- Garnish with parsley or spring onion and serve with fried mantou (chinese steamed buns) or rice. The buns are handy for mopping up every last bit of that yummy sauce.