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Chili Crab (Crab in Sour and Spicy Sauce)


Chili Crab (Crab in Sour and Spicy Sauce) Recipe

2 – 2.5 lb Dungeness crab
3 tablespoons oil
3 garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water (mix well)
1 egg, beaten
Salt to taste
12 steamed buns or mantou

Sour and Spicy Sauce

5 tablespoons ketchup
5 tablespoons Lingham’s Hot Sauce
1 heaping tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1/2 teaspoon Chinese rice vinegar or lime juice to taste
1 cup water


Clean the crab and cut into 6 pieces, drain the crab and discard the water seeping out of the crab. Pick out the tamale (or mustard) inside the crab shell, set aside. Discard the shell.

Mix all the ingredients in the Sour and Spicy Sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat up a wok and add the oil. When the oil is heated, add the minced garlic and ginger and stir fry until aromatic or when they turn slightly brown. Add the crab and the tamale into the wok, stirring for about 10 seconds. Add the Sour and Spicy Sauce, stir to blend well with the crab. Cover the wok with its lid and let cook for about 4-5 minutes.

Uncover the wok and slowly add the cornstarch mixture into the sauce. Stir the sauce until it thickens. Add the egg into the sauce and stir a few times so the egg is distributed evenly in the sauce. Cook for another 30 seconds or so, add salt to taste if needed. Dish out and serve immediately with the steaming hot buns.

Cook’s Notes:

If you can’t find Chinese steamed buns where you are, you can try out this recipe by Almost Bourdain.
I strongly recommend Lingham’s Hot Sauce for the best result. You can purchase it online at
If you can’t find Lingham’s Hot Sauce, you can make this dish with Sriracha but do adjust the quantity according to your taste as Sriracha is very spicy. If you use Sriracha, do add sugar into the sauce.

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40 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Simon

    I’m soo jealous Bee. I really want to try and squeeze in a trip to thailand and malaysia. Just savin up for a Nikon D7000 first. This looks extremely nice. I’m actually inspired to learn how to cook malay food more, and open my town’s first asian restaurant serving some simple nyonya items on the menu.

    Have a nice trip, and enjoy yourself in the place i badly wish i could go now. How does this sauce go with for example chicken?. Was just thinking, because unfortunately my stomach doesn’t agree too well with sea food.

  2. Razzleberry

    Happy New Year and Happy eating in Singapore! My mouth is watering and now I am craving some crab after seeing your pictures! I can’t wait for the nightly fisherman’s market where they sell fresh caught seafood at the pier in San Pedro…That isn’t until Friday night. :( Until then, I’ll just try not to chew my labtop.

  3. Rabeeya

    I was wondering… Would this work well with Prawns/shrimps? peeled and de-veined. I have some large prawns on hand, frozen. And I am looking for a nice recipe with a good sauce for them.

  4. Dorach

    Cooked this tonight using the biggest prawns I could find. It is super duper yummy. Made a memorable CNY eve dinner, as per your suggestion :-)

  5. I have always wanted to try Chili Crab! This looks like a recipe that is easy to make :)

    One look at the picture though and I somehow got the feeling that there was ketchup in it. I am not so sure about that though.

  6. Marion Montgomery

    On our honeymoon in Singapore in 1987, we went to the east shore before the redevelopment. Tables and chairs set on the dirt around the cook fires, no menus, just say what you want. Chili crab, wanted to take a bath in the sauce! I made this on Super Bowl Sunday, delicious! Sopped up all the sauce, the crab was good,too!

  7. Hoi

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I made this on the weekend and the sauce is spot on. It brought back all the memories of chilli crab from Singapore. This is a keeper.

  8. stewartc

    Wow – how has it taken me this long to find your website??? It is fantastic! Tried this crab after wanting to re-create what I had in Singapore and it is delicious and very authentic. Everyone raved about it. Congratulations!

  9. Rebecca

    Thanks for sharing. I love to sift some flour / corn flour or tapioca flour onto the cut side of the crab, then pan fry with some oil to golden the dish up. I will use spring onion — the white part to add more aroma, fry them with the sliced ginger and garlic.
    Since you have buns or mantou, I will deep fry them in hot oil and remove once they are slightly golden, dish up then deep fry the crabs !! Once awhile to eat the deep fried buns or mantou, is ok. A restaurant served deep fried mamtou with curry chicken too !! Yummy !!
    Chinese New Year is at the corner, wishing you and your family always Healthy and Happy and Wealthy !!

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