Have you heard of Chilli Crab?

An iconic seafood dish from Singapore and Malaysia is chilli crab. It is often served with steamed buns or rice and is produced by stir-frying crab in a hot tomato sauce. A mainstay of Southeast Asian cuisine, the meal is well renowned for its spicy, salty, and somewhat sweet flavor combination. But how did this delectable delicacy come to be so well-known, and where did it originate?

The origins of chilli crab can be traced back to the 1950s in Singapore. During this time, there was a growing demand for seafood in the country, and many small seafood restaurants began to open to meet this demand. It is said that one of these restaurants, owned by a chef named Cher Yuleng, was the first to serve chilli crab.

Cher Yuleng was known for his innovative approach to cooking and his love of spicy food, and he created chilli crab as a way to bring something new to the seafood market. He used a combination of ingredients such as chili paste, ketchup, tomato sauce, and other spices to create a sauce that was both spicy and sweet. He then stir-fried crab in the sauce to create the dish we now know as chilli crab.

The dish quickly became popular in Singapore and soon gained a reputation as a must-try dish for visitors to the country. As the popularity of chilli crab grew, other restaurants began to serve the dish, and it became a staple of the local seafood scene. In the 1960s and 1970s, as tourism in Southeast Asia began to grow, chilli crab became known to people from all over the world, and its reputation as a delicious and unique dish continued to spread.

In Malaysia, chilli crab is also a popular dish and is said to have been inspired by the dish served in Singapore. In Malaysia, the dish is typically made with larger crabs and the sauce is slightly sweeter than the Singaporean version. In both countries, chilli crab is typically served with steamed buns or rice and is enjoyed as a shared dish among friends and family.

The popularity of chilli crab has led to the creation of many variations of the dish, including black pepper crab, salted egg crab, and butter crab. These variations are typically made by adding additional ingredients to the sauce or by changing the cooking method, but the basic flavor profile remains the same.

When the meat is perfectly cooked to be tender, you don’t need a knife and fork to consume this dish. Crab aficionados typically eat this dish with their hands in Singaporean seafood joints. Nonetheless, nutcrackers and mallets can be used to shatter open the shell’s tougher regions. Eating this dish is more enjoyable when you participate in the cracking, smashing, and peeling as well as take in the aroma. Moreover, many eateries provide Chinese “mantou” steamed buns to eat up the savory leftovers of the meal.

The 1950s saw the creation of the Singaporean delicacy chilli crab, which has since spread throughout Southeast Asia. People all over the world like the meal because of its spicy, flavorful, and slightly sweet flavor profile. Whether served in a restaurant, at a street food stall, or in the comfort of your own home, chilli crab is a tasty and distinctive dish that is guaranteed to be liked by anybody who tries it.

If you are ever here in Singapore, check out Jumbo Seafood! In the East Coast Seafood Centre, this restaurant first opened its doors in 1987. It is renowned for packing a powerful flavor punch. This restaurant immediately gained a devoted following, leading to the opening of six other locations in Singapore. There are nine more throughout China, with three of them located in Shanghai. The crabs at this restaurant are the heaviest and come with a mouthwatering spicy, sour, and sweet sauce. The eatery also offers a sizable dining room with plenty of outside seating that overlooks the water.

Check out my related post: What is Chendol?

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