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Singaporean Chilli Crab Recipe (with Lemongrass and Ginger Book Review)

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Singaporean Chilli Crab01

I’ve started to love cooking with more fresh herbs since I came to Australia where many herbs come in very handy. The little herbs can magically turn a simple dish into an elegant one with big flavours.

When Leemei Tan, author of an award-winning food blog, My Cooking Hut, emailed me an invitation to write something about her newly released cookbook, “Lemongrass and Ginger”, I’m pleased to accept as I’ve followed her blog and attracted by her mouth-watering photos for over 2 years. Upon reading the cookbook title, it got me thinking of the aromatic herds often used in Southeast Asian cuisine. Lemongrass and ginger are two of my most favourite herds that I often keep in my kitchen. I’m curious enough to find out more about her cookbook and want to try some out.

Lemongrass and Ginger Cookbook

Flipping through her cookbook, with over 100 recipes in 7 chapters, I’m pleased to find it collected many classic dishes from all over Southeast Asia - Japan & Korea, China, Philippines & Indonesia, Malaysia & Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and India & Sri Lanka. Some dishes I am quite familiar with, like pho (Vietnamese soup), laksa (Malaysian spicy noodle soup), bibimbap (Korean mixed rice) because they are classics and popular around the word, some quite new to me, like Cambodian and Sri Lankan cuisines, because I seldom have any chance to try. Most famous and delicious Asian recipes are covered in one cookbook. It's very handy to help explore and expand my Asian cooking repertoire. Thank you, Leemei.

If you’re curious, please hop over to Leemei’s bog and you’ll find more detailed information and a video of sneak preview. Or you might be interested, get a copy from Amazon.

I was intrigued to cook many of the recipes upon the first glance of Leemei’s cookbook. After trying her version of Singaporean Chilli Crab, that my husband and I really enjoyed for New Year’s Eve dinner, I found the dish was very easy to make without any fuss. Simply whip up the basic spice paste, instructed in “Basic Recipes” section. Viola! The whole dish could be done in a wok or pan in a few minutes.

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Singaporean Chilli Crab Recipe (Printable recipe)
Adapted from Lemongrass and Ginger, p.109 byChristine's Recipes
Prep time: 45 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Yield: 4 serves

  • 1.5kg / 3lb 5oz uncooked brown or blue swimmer crabs, or crab claws, scrubbed (I used mud crab.)
  • 3 Tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 recipe quantity chilli crab spice paste (see below)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp chilli sauce
  • 2 Tbsp clear honey
  • 3 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • boiled long-grain rice, to serve
  1. To prepare each crab, pull off the triangular bony tail flap and discard. Press your thumb under the rear end of the crab and lift the body away from the back shell. Discard the shell and remove and discard the stomach bag and the gills at the sides of the body. Rinse the crab flesh and claws under running cold water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Pull the 2 front claws from the bodies and then, using the back of a knife or a mallet, slightly crack the shell of each claw. Cut the crabs into quarters with a large-bladed knife. If using crab claws only, rinse under running cold water and crack the claws slightly using a large-bladed knife.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan over a high heat. Add the spice paste and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until fragrant and the oil starts to rise to the surface.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the tomato ketchup, chilli sauce, honey and soy sauce in a small bowl. Add the sauce mixture to the wok or pan, then pour in 9-ml/3fl oz/generous 1/3 cup water and bring to the boil.
  4. Tip in the crab pieces and push around the wok or pan until well coated with the sauce. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the crab pieces turn bright orange and are cooked through. Serve immediately with boiled rice.

To Make Chilli Crab Paste

Chilli Crab spice paste
  • 2 dried chillies
  • 5 red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 6 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 5cm/2in piece of root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp roasted shrimp paste (I used bottled smooth shrimp paste)
  1. Soak the dried chillies in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain, deseed and roughly chop.
  2. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend a smooth paste. (I used a pestle and mortar to ground all ingredients into paste.)


  1. Happy New Year, Christine!

    I am glad to learn that you and your family love the dish! :)
    Thanks for your review on my cookbook, I hope you will find more recipes in the book that you will truly enjoy!

  2. love this classic Singapore favourite! wishing you a happy & delicious new year!~

  3. i love chilli crab but so far i always prefer to buy cos i am too chickened out to handle crabs in my own kitchen LOL

    1. You can throw the crabs in the freezer and freeze them for about half an hour. They will be easy to handle by then.

  4. yummy! I too had this book but haven't had time to try any recipe yet!

  5. Have not had chili crabs for a long time! Looks so yummy.