Chilli crab

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Chilli Crab
Chilli crab-02.jpg
A plate of chilli crab
Place of originSingapore
Associated national cuisineSingapore
Created byCher Yam Tian
Serving temperaturehot, with a side of Mantou
Main ingredientsCrab, Chilli, Egg
VariationsBlack pepper crab

Chilli Crab (also known as là jiāo páng xiè, 辣椒螃蟹) is a Southeast Asian seafood dish originating from Singapore. Mud crabs are commonly used and are stir-fried in a semi-thick, sweet and savoury tomato-and-chilli-based sauce. It is listed at number 35 on the World's 50 most delicious foods list compiled by CNN Go in 2011.[1]


In 1956, Cher Yam Tian and her husband Lim Choo Ngee began selling stir-fried crabs mixed with bottled chilli and tomato sauce from a pushcart. This was an improvised recipe; the original one did not involve bottled chilli sauce.[2] A successful business selling this dish prompted the establishment of a restaurant, Palm Beach Seafood, along Upper East Coast Road.[2]

In September 2009, Ng Yen Yen, Malaysia's Tourism Minister, controversially claimed that, among other dishes, "chilli crab is Malaysian", accusing "other countries" of "hijacking our food".[3]


Chilli crab has been promoted by the Singapore Tourism Board as one of Singapore's national dishes, and can be found in seafood restaurants all over the island. It is traditionally eaten with bare hands as a means to savour the juicy crab meat with its sweet and spicy chilli sauce. Restaurants often provide wet towels or a washing bowl with lime in order for diners to clean their hands after their meal.

Chilli crab sauce is described as "sensuous" and "sweet, yet savoury", with a "fluffy texture".[4] Mud crabs (Scylla serrata) are the most common type of crabs used for the dish, although other species of crab can be used too.[4]

It is commonly served with a side of either fried or steamed mantou buns, which are used as a vehicle to scoop up the sauce.[5]

Cultural impact[edit]

CNN Go listed chilli crab as one of the "world's 50 most delicious foods", at Number 35.[6]

It was one of the Singaporean dishes featured during Singapore Day 2011 in Shanghai, China.[7]

The Amazing Race 25, The Amazing Race Asia 4, and The Amazing Race China 4 featured a task that required contestants to crack a specified amount of chilli crabs (i.e. two pounds for the American version, one kilogram for the Asian version, and 500 grams for the Chinese version).[8]

A Singapore-based episode of Secret Eats with Adam Richman aired on the Travel Channel in September 2016, showed the host, Adam Richman, sampling a chilli crab at the New Ubin Seafood restaurant in Sin Ming's Industrial Estate.

Chilli crab was also featured on the Netflix TV series, Street Food in season 1.[9]

The top restaurants recommended by Michelin inspectors can be found on the Michelin website.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "World's 50 best foods". CNN Travel. Archived from the original on 2015-12-16. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
  2. ^ a b "40 good years dishing up chilli crabs". The Straits Times. 23 June 1996. p. 5. Archived from the original on 2013-09-25. Retrieved 2013-04-15.
  3. ^ Teh, Eng Hock (September 17, 2009). "Laksa and nasi lemak among our pride, says Yen Yen". The Star. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Chilli Crab". YourSingapore. Archived from the original on 2013-05-14. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
  5. ^ "Chilli crab, mantou wow MasterChef Australia's George Calombaris in Singapore | Singapore Showbiz - Yahoo Entertainment Singapore". 2014-10-29. Archived from the original on 2014-10-29. Retrieved 2020-07-11.
  6. ^ CNN Go World's 50 most delicious foods Archived 2011-10-08 at the Wayback Machine 21 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-11
  7. ^ "Singapore Day 2011 Celebrity Hawker Dragon Phoenix Restaurant". Archived from the original on 2013-10-09. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  8. ^ Field, Sonya (November 29, 2014). "'The Amazing Race' season 25, episode 9 recap: Committing race suicide". Hypable. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  9. ^ Tan, John (25 April 2019). "Local putu piring stall featured in new Netflix show Street Food". SPH Digital News. The New Paper. Archived from the original on 29 July 2020. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Where To Eat Chilli Crab In Singapore". MICHELIN Guide. Retrieved 2021-04-13.