Chilli Crab, Singapore’s unofficial “national dish” had beginnings as humble as the country itself. In the 1950s, Madam Cher Yam Tian had a hawker stall right on the seashore, and she spent her time everyday from dusk till the wee hours of the morning cooking by the light of a kerosene lamp. One of Madam Cher’s specialities? Live crabs in a zesty chilli-spiked gravy, the first version of the Singapore chilli crab.That stall is long gone, but close to its original spot now stands the East Coast Seafood Centre, where a bevy of restaurants cook up a storm of chilli crab every night for hordes of eager diners. Nowadays, the dish has many incarnations: some are packed with fresh spices like galangal, ginger, and turmeric, some are sweet-sour and rosy with tomato, others are ribboned with beaten egg, and still others carry the sting of chilli oil. All are meant to be attacked with gusto – and a nutcracker to tackle thick shells, plus a few slices of French bread or mantou (Chinese buns) to help you soak up every last drop of delicious sauce. Black pepper crab started becoming popular in the 1980s, and now most crustacean-themed restaurants offer crabs simply stir-fried with pungent doses of black or white peppercorns, alongside chilli crab.
Some Places to Try Chilli Crab;
- Jumbo Seafood
Huge juicy crabs topped with a deliciously piquant sauce. This large restaurant gets so crowded on weekends, the managers communicate by radio microphone.
Blk 1206 East Coast Parkway,
#01-07/08, East Coast Seafood Centre
Tel: (65) 64423435
- No Signboard Seafood
An extremely popular eatery with families and big groups. Try the black or white pepper crabs, and also the lovely oats prawns and plain steamed live prawns with garlic.
414 Geylang Road (next to Lorong 24)
Tel: (65) 68423415
- Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant
A large menu, with many different crab and fish preparations. Have a leisurely meal, so you can try several dishes and enjoy the view.
#01-08 One Fullerton, 1 Fullerton Road
Tel: (65) 64230040