These expert tips will help you achieve the perfect balance of flavours.
16 May 2013 - 10:39 AM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Singapore chilli crab

This famous dish typically uses hard-shell mud crab but you can use any type of crab and soft shell crab can help cut down on the messiness factor since the meat doesn’t have to be removed from sauced-covered shells. Despite it’s name, chili crab is more flavourful than chili hot. The crabs are stir-fried in a tomato-chilli sauce with ginger, garlic, fermented black beans, and tomato sauce and eggs are often added at the end to add body.

Selecting a wok

For the beginner, it is best to buy a wok set with a lid, ring, wok turner, ladle, and strainer. A wok made of low carbon steel is preferred, as this type of metal is a better conductor of heat.

Seasoning and cleaning a wok

If you buy a nonstick wok you will need to season it before you use it.  After use, never use detergent; clean with water and place back on the gas to burn away impurities, wipe with a paper towel with a little oil to keep it at its best.


The secret to the success of a good stir-fry is to prepare all ingredients before starting to cook. Also, heat the wok first before adding any oil to reduce smoking; cook over high heat and keep the food moving; partially cook the vegetables first by blanching or soaking in hot water.

Steaming fish

When steaming fish, slice through flesh for even cooking. This allows the heat to penetrate the thicker parts of the fish, preventing the thinner parts (especially near the tail) from overcooking. If marinating the fish before cooking, this also allows the flesh to absorb the flavours.

How to store spices

Spices will generally be at their best for up to a month, if stored correctly. Store spices in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Humidity, light and heat will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor more quickly.

Roasting/toasting spices

Whole or ground spices can be toasted. While the toasting process is the same for both, ground spices may toast slightly faster than whole. Simply place a dry skillet over medium heat. When the pan gets hot, pour in the desired amount of spice.