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Southeast Asian cuisine is as vibrant, diverse, and colorful as the entirety of its culture. The different nations that comprise this region each have their own dishes, making use of common ingredients to produce incredibly unique flavors. With many Southeast Asian countries nestling by bodies of water, it comes as no surprise that seafood plays a big role in many of their cooking. Take this chili garlic crab and shrimp as proof!
There are many ways to enjoy crab, that’s for sure. But one can argue (and quite convincingly) that chili crab might be one of, if not the best. The perfect marriage of sweet and savory, Singaporean chili crab isn’t just a Singaporean favorite, but it’s one people love around the world. You can find chili crab in Singapore at any hawker, or the large food courts you find at Singaporean fresh markets. No dish says authentically Singapore more than this chili crab, whose insanely tasty flavors and enticing aroma make it beyond addictive.
Chili Crab Origin
You may be wondering when chili crabs became such a popular Singaporean delicacy. This filling seafood has its roots in the 1950s, where a husband and wife duo sold stir fried crabs with bottled chili and tomato sauce around the city through a pushcart. One day, an improvised recipe that did not include their bottled chili sauce gave birth to the universally beloved recipe we know today! This product of spontaneity led the couple to establish their own restaurant called Palm Beach Seafood. But in the 1960s, one of the most famous chefs at the time, Hooi Kok Wah, created the version of chili crab we more commonly know and love in this day and age. Talk about a happy accident!
Chili garlic crab isn’t a dish for those afraid to get their hands dirty. In fact, getting your hands dirty is one of the most prominent parts of the whole experience! You can try your best to stick to your forks or chopsticks, sure. But using your fingers and any tool you’ve got on hand is the best way to eat any shellfish dish! And chili crab is no exception: crack your crab open and dip it in its heavenly sauce, and you’ve got yourself a winner. It might not be the best idea for a first date, but long time lovers will definitely have fun chowing down on this dish together.
Indeed, the sauce of this chili garlic crab is what makes this dish stand head and shoulders above the rest. It’s a combination of tomato paste, banana ketchup, green onions, and chili peppers, among others, that make up this scrumptious flavoring. Bursting with insane tastes, chili crab is a lot more about the sweet and savory flavors than it is spice. But pair your crab or shrimp with the pieces of chili pepper and you’re sure to get that extra kick you’re after!
This chili crab recipe is made even more special with the addition of another seafood: shrimp! Mild in taste but just as yummy, shrimp pairs perfectly with that classic chili crab sauce. In Singapore, shrimp is yet another seafood they celebrate and incorporate into a myriad of dishes. Take salted egg prawns, for instance! This is another example of a dish where you dip your shellfish into a sauce incredibly and overwhelmingly savory. The result? You’ll want to lick your fingers clean with how good this dish is!
How to Cook Chili Garlic Crab and Shrimp
Roll up your sleeves and get ready to cook this tasty Singaporean treat! Before cooking, make sure you’ve cut your crab in half and cleaned the shrimp you’re using. Also note that you have to chop your Thai chili peppers, and cut your green onions into pieces. Don’t forget to beat your egg, too!
After chopping your onion, garlic, and ginger, as well as prepping the rest of your ingredients, you can now dive into cooking! Heat 4 tablespoons of cooking oil in a pot before sautéing your onion, garlic, ginger, and peppers. When you onions soften, your shrimps go in. Cook until the color of your shrimp is orange, then set it aside.
The next step in this chili crab recipe is making the crab itself! While you can use any crab you prefer, I think blue crab is one of, if not the most preferred varieties. Stir your crab in the pot for about 3 to 5 minutes. Then, add 2 cups of water into the pot and add in a piece of Knorr Chicken Cube. This will give your dish even more depth of flavor, leading to it becoming even tastier. Bring your water in the pot to a boil by covering it with the lid.
Once boiling, add your tomato paste and banana ketchup, and stir. For 2 minutes, let this combination cook; isn’t that aroma just delightful? Add your shrimp back into the pot, then toss your green onions in while you’re at it. This cooks for 1 to 2 minutes, before you season it with salt and ground black pepper. Add your egg and stir before making your slurry.
Now, what your slurry does is add even more thickness to your sauce until you reach your desired consistency. Do this by combining 3 teaspoons of cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water. Mix well and thoroughly, then pour it back into the pan and stir until your sauce thickens. When you get the consistency you’re after, that’s when you know your chili garlic crab is ready!
Transfer your dish to a serving bowl and breathe in that incredibly savory aroma. Skip the bibs and the forks—let your family dig in, kamayan style! Your loved ones are guaranteed to fall in love with the bright and tasty flavors of this chili crab and shrimp.
Share and enjoy! Let us know what you think!
- 3 lbs. crab cut in half
- 1 lb. shrimp cleaned
- 1 Knorr Chicken Cube
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ cup banana ketchup
- 3 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 egg beaten
- ¾ cup green onion cut into pieces
- 3 Thai chili pepper chopped
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 head garlic minced
- 2 thumbs ginger grated
- 2 cups water
- 4 tablespoons cooking oil
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a cooking pot. Sauté the onion, garlic, ginger, and Thai chili pepper.
- Once the onion softens, add shrimp. Cook until the color of the shrimp turns orange. Remove the shrimp and place on clean plate. Set the shrimp aside.
- Continue cooking by adding the crab. Cook while stirring occasionally for 3 to 5 minutes. Note: I am using blue crab for this recipe.
- Pour water into the pot and then add Knorr Chicken Cube. Cover the pot and let the liquid boil.
- Add tomato paste and banana ketchup. Stir. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the shrimp back into the pot. Also add some green onions. Cover the pot and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Season with salt and ground black pepper.
- Add the beaten egg. Stir.
- Make a slurry by combining cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water. Pour the mixture into the pan. Stir until the sauce thickens.
- Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve hot. Share and enjoy!