Singapore-Style Chilli Crab

The best chilli crabs with a thick savoury sauce just like those served at hawker stalls in Singapore is rather easy to prepare at home. This flavourful dish is popular with the locals in Malaysia too. Follow the steps to keep the meat sweet and juicy!

5 stars

Preparation 20 mins
Cooking 30 mins



Malaysian, Singaporean

Nyonya Cooking on Facebook
Nyonya Cooking on Pinterest
Nyonya Cooking on Twitter

Nutrition per Serving

437 kcal
30 g
12 g
51 g

Look no further for an easy crab recipe. Authentic chilli crabs like those in Singapore can be recreated in your kitchen, anywhere in the world. This amazing dish is made using a paste which has all the five basic flavours namely sweetness, spiciness, sourness, saltiness and umami.

Understandably, there is a reason why it is listed #29 under CNN World’s 50 Most Delicious Food in 2017.

Despite its name, this dish is actually not spicy. It is cooked in a gravy which is thick, sweet and savoury with only a slight tinge of spiciness. It is normally accompanied by deep fried or steamed Chinese buns also known as 'mantao'.

Dipped fried steamed buns
Dipped fried steamed buns

The best chilli crab sauce

The gravy must be thick and flavourful, with strings of egg in it. It should be balanced in sweetness, savouriness and spiciness.

That’s why, taucu and blended fresh ingredients are key ingredients to make the best sauce! Adding fresh chillies, ginger and chillies gives an extra kick to the sauce.

Most importantly, the blended ingredients must be sautéed until fragrant or else it will taste raw and leave a bitter flavour.

Which kind of crab to use?

Normally, mud crabs are used to prepare this dish. In Germany, I was only able to get live brown crab instead but the result was still amazing.

You may even use soft shell crabs if that is your preference. Use your creativity. I could also imagine some juicy and succulent prawns embedded in the sauce!

How to humanely kill the crab?

Cleaning the crab was bothersome but it is necessary to ensure that all impurities are removed. However, the first hurdle was to kill the crab.

To do so, place the live crab in the freezer for 20 minutes. This will make them ‘sleep’. You can then quickly chop them up and cook immediately.

What is in the chilli crab sauce?

The chilli crab sauce has a combination of chillies, ginger, garlic, ketchup and most importantly, fermented soy beans. The gravy is then thickened and egg is added to it.

Taucu alternatives

Taucu is simply fermented soy beans which are usually used in Singapore and Malaysia. In fact, other countries such as Thailand and Taiwan have similar versions of fermented soy beans.

If taucu isn't available, you can susbtitute it with any type of fermented soy beans which aren't spicy. Japanese miso or Korean doenjang will be a great substitute.

Other meat besides crab

This sauce goes extremely well with seafood, shell fishes specifically. Lobster will be a good option. Both crab and lobster can be rather messy and tedious when it comes to cooking, especially if you are not familiar with it.

We also recommend tiger prawns, crayfishes and if you like, clams! Just remember to always serve it with some steamed Chinese buns.

How to serve chilli crab?

Fried steamed Chinese buns goes hand in hand with chilli crab. They are always served along side this delicious seafood dish.


1 kg
fresh chilli (red)
1 cm
garlic clove(s)
2 tbsp
1 tbsp
fermented soybean paste (taucu)
300 g
2 tbsp
4 tbsp
1 tsp
1 tbsp
corn starch
2 tbsp

Steps to Prepare

Singapore-Style Chilli Crab Step 1

Step 1 of 6

    • 1 kg crab

Clean the crab. Scrub shell with a brush to ensure no impurities. Cut crab into quarters. Crack the shell slightly and leave aside.

Singapore-Style Chilli Crab Step 2

Step 2 of 6

    • 6 fresh chilli (red)
    • 1 cm ginger
    • 2 shallot(s)
    • 8 garlic clove(s)
    • 2 tbsp oil

Blend chillies, ginger and garlic and shallots. Heat oil in a pan over low heat. Then, sauté blended ingredients until fragrant.

Singapore-Style Chilli Crab Step 3

Step 3 of 6

Add in the pieces of crab except for the upper section of the shell known as the carapace.

Singapore-Style Chilli Crab Step 4

Step 4 of 6

    • 1 tbsp fermented soybean paste (taucu)
    • 300 g water
    • 2 tbsp sugar
    • 4 tbsp ketchup
    • 1 tsp salt

Add fermented bean paste and continue sautéing for 3 minutes. Add water to the pan and increase the heat to allow it to boil. Then, add sugar, ketchup and salt. Once it boils, place the carapace on top and cover with the lid. Cook at medium heat for 10 minutes

Singapore-Style Chilli Crab Step 5

Step 5 of 6

    • 1 tbsp corn starch
    • 2 tbsp water
    • 2 egg(s)

Mix cornstarch and water. Then, add to pan to thicken the gravy. Once gravy thickens, add beaten eggs to gravy and cook for 3 minutes.

Singapore-Style Chilli Crab Step 6

Step 6 of 6

Dish it out and garnish with scallions and chilies. Serve with some fried steamed Chinese buns.

Published: September 26, 2016

4 Discussions

Darryl Thompson
2 years ago

Darryl Thompson

Made today with 5 blue swimmer crabs, 1 kg of tiger prawns and 2 pieces of white fish. Enough to for 5 people. Absolutely magnificent

Fiona Gray
4 years ago

Fiona Gray

This was so easy to make and delicious! I really thought I will never be able to make this dish and can only wait for my next trip home to savour this dish. I tried with lobster tails and it was delish!

Jen Vergara
4 years ago

Jen Vergara

Hi! I can't get a hold of Taucu here. Can I use Doenjang since it is also soybean paste? Thanks!

Mira - Community Happiness Manager
4 years ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Yes, or miso.

Zayana Zulkiflee
4 years ago

Zayana Zulkiflee

Hiya, can this be cooked in an instant pot or pressure cooker?

Mira - Community Happiness Manager
4 years ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Sure, but you wouldn't need any of the functions since crabs do not take a long time to cook.

Give us your opinion! Log in and start posting.