This Singapore’s national seafood dish, created in the 50s has a complex sauce redolent with sambal, eggs, stock and hints of vinegar and smoothened by a touch of starch. It is spicy, sweet, umami laden, tomato paste, tangy and savoury all at once. The sweet crabs sitting in the sauce is to be devoured by hand, with a bib ideally. A pincer plier is often provided to crack into the flesh. Breads like mantou are provided and dipping it in the sauce and savouring is a highlight of this dish.
Keng Eng Kee Seafood
124 Bukit Merah Ln 1 #01-136 (Map) http://www.kek.com.sg/ 11.30am – 2pm, 5pm – 10pm Daily
This family, originally from Ipoh, Malaysia, now calls Singapore home and they gave this land a slice of their culinary delights. Among the many cze cha dishes they are famed for (see cze cha listing), folks just cannot get enough of their chilli crabs. If you don't call way ahead, the crabs would have been booked by other diners. They use their own-made sambal and tomato sauce to wok-toss the crabs with and it comes very bold, rich, eggy and spicy enough with just a very light touch of tang. They use huge Sri Lanka crabs and supplies are limited these days, so good luck. Dip the steamed, not fried, mantou in the sauce for that great finishing touch to this meal.
Mattar Road BBQ Seafood
51 Old Airport Rd #01-63, Old Airport Rd Hawker Ctr (Map) 3pm – 9pm Mon - Wed
A celebrity chef from America, Rick Bayless, once called this dish the best meal of his life and he wasn't trying to be nice; he wolfed the whole platter down. The old cooks here take two days off a week just to make and rest their own-concocted sambal chilli, a very important component in this dish. The result is a very distinctly aromatic and fearless sambal used with tomato sauce to work it into the crabs. As it is a hawker centre where customers are usually more price conscious, they use slightly smaller, but no less meaty, crabs of about 700 grams each. The big restaurants usually offer the 1-kilogram little giants.
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