Potentially the most popular of all crab dishes, Singapore chilli crab is luxurious, rich and ever-so satisfying. Most recipes call for mud crab, which is traditionally preferred for its generous yield. Serve with either crusty bread, steamed buns or steamed rice. Whatever you choose, don’t forget crab crackers, finger bowls, and napkins.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (654 votes)


  • 1 large mud crab, cleaned
  • 2 brown onions, roughly chopped
  • 8 small red chillies, chopped
  • 125 ml vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp shrimp paste (belacan)
  • 250 ml tomato puree
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) light soy sauce
  • 55 g (¼ cup) white sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cornflour or potato starch, mixed with 125 ml water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • coriander leaves, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Remove the crab's top shell and chop the crab into quarters. Crack the claws to allow the flavours to penetrate. Set aside.

Place the onion and chilli in a food processor and process to a puree.  

Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the onion and chilli puree and the shrimp paste, and fry for 6-7 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated and the paste begins to change colour. Add the tomato puree, soy sauce, sugar, tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar and salt, and mix through. Add combined cornflour and water and bring to the boil.

Add the crab pieces and cook, covered, over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until the shells turn red and the crab is cooked through. Stir through the egg and toss lightly to coat. Garnish with coriander.


Want more recipes like this? We recommend: 

• Singapore's other star: Hainanese chicken rice.
• Noodles, ice-cream sandwiches and 'slings' from our Singaporean recipe collection.
• 15 tasty ways to get your chilli fix
Slow-cooked salmontempura prawns, and other sensational seafood recipes.