Thought to have been created in the 1950s at Long Beach Seafood restaurant, black pepper crab has since become a staple of Singapore’s street food stalls and is one of the country’s most iconic dishes. The crab is deep-fried first and then smothered in a thick, rich oyster sauce spiced with plenty of peppercorns, chillies and ginger.
- 4 blue swimmer crabs
- 250 ml (1 cup) vegetable oil
- 35 g (¼ cup) black peppercorns, lightly crushed
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 5 cm piece ginger, peeled, sliced
- ½ bunch spring onions, sliced
- 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced
- 60 ml (¼ cup) soy sauce
- 60 ml (¼ cup) oyster sauce
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- 80 g unsalted butter, chopped
- 125 ml (½ cup) chicken stock
- 1 bunch coriander, leaves picked
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.
To prepare crabs, break off tail flaps on the underside and discard. Carefully pull off back shells and reserve. Remove ‘dead man’s fingers’ (soft gills) and discard, then rinse and discard stomach sac. Cut each crab in half lengthwise, then crack large claws to ensure they cook through. Pat crabs dry using paper towel.
Heat oil in a wok over high heat to 180°C (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 10 seconds). Add crabs in batches and cook, turning occasionally, for 2 minutes or until just before cooked through. Using tongs, remove crabs and drain on paper towel.
Remove half the oil from wok and discard. Add peppercorns, garlic, ginger, half the spring onions and half the chillies to the wok and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, butter and chicken stock, and simmer for 1 minute. Return crab to wok and simmer, turning occasionally, for a further 4 minutes or until sauce has reduced. Top with remaining spring onions, chillies and coriander leaves, and serve immediately.
Photography by Chris Chen
As seen in Feast magazine, Dec/Jan 2013, Issue 27.