Sitting in a busy, noisy and humid hawker centre in Singapore, sweating buckets while licking sweet, spicy, sticky chilli crab sauce off my fingers. That happened – but only in my memories, as I braced against the frigid morning air looking for mud crabs at South Melbourne market a few weeks ago. I had a craving and I needed a chilli crab fix. Well in this case, I needed a chilli crab sauce fix. It’s all about that sauce I tell ya.
There were no sign of crabs, not mud crabs, not even swimmer crabs. So instead, we opted for beautiful fresh king prawns. There was still a lot of finger-lickin goodness as we slurped the sauce, mopped it up with fresh bread and sucked the sweet and creamy goodness from the prawn heads. Mmm…I can imagine some of you cringing and going ‘bleurgh’…who sucks on prawn heads? Well I do. And the phrase I learnt from watching Unnecessary Roughness recently- “Don’t yuck my yum” :)
I wrote about cooking chilli crabs about 2 years ago for our wedding anniversary. This recipe is slightly different from the first one. This version by famous Singapore cook Violet Oon, is a smoother and more saucy version than the other one which is more savoury and slightly chunkier (from bits of onion and garlic). Both are good and tasted pretty authentic and I’m happy to keep both on my recipes list.
Now go forth, enjoy and don’t forget to suck on those prawn heads!
SINGAPORE CHILLI CRABS/PRAWNS
Recipe by Violet Oon
- 450g mud crabs or in this case, 1 kg of king prawns
- 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp finely chopped or grated ginger
- 6 fresh red chilli, roughly chopped
- 1 egg
- 2 spring onions (scallions), cut into finger length
- 1 tsp freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
- 1 small bunch coriander plant (cilantro), leaves picked
- vegetable oil
For the sauce:
- 1 cup of water
- 5 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 1 1/2 to 3 tbsp sugar or according to taste (I used 3 tbsp)
- 1 1/2 tsp cornflour
- 1 tsp pounded brown preserved soya beans or dark miso (optional)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Add all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
- Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil in a wok over high heat.
- Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant, be careful not to burn it.
- Add the chilli, stir-fry till fragrant. Add in crabs or prawns, fry well till shells are just starting to turn red, add sauce ingredients stir well, cover with lid and simmer till shells are red.
- Break egg into the wok and streak with a fork, simmer for a while till egg is cooked. Squeeze in the lime juice and stir in scallions.
- Serve hot with a garnish of coriander leaves.