Singapore style chilli swimmer crabs

Swimmer crabs were on sale for a price I could not refuse. The crabs were, however, quite small. My husband remarked that had they been harvested from Australia (instead of somewhere in Asia), they may even have been too small, legally. I actually didn’t know what to make with these but I did want Singapore style chilli crabs – which are often made with much larger, mud crabs.

Although the crab is, of course, an important part of the dish, I actually think the sauce is the real winner. It pairs perfectly with any seafood, not just crab. So feel free to apply the same recipe with prawns, fish, etc.


Serves 4 as a side (approx. 501 calories per serve)

Prep time 20 mins (extra for cleaning/cutting crabs)
Cook time 20 mins

4 chillies, chopped finely
6 cloves garlic, minced
2cm piece ginger, minced
1 large onion, chopped finely
80ml neutral oil
1 1/2 tsp shrimp paste
1 tbsp taucu paste
5 tbsp tomato paste
500ml water
50ml ketchup
10ml sweet chilli sauce
1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp salt (optional – to taste)
40g palm sugar (optional – to taste)
1kg crab, cleaned and cut into pieces
2 1/2 tsp cornflour, dissolved in 1 tbsp water
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 spring onion, chopped
1 bunch coriander, chopped

Note: I used a wok similar to this.

Blitz the chillies, garlic, ginger and onion into a paste.

In a non-stick pan, heat the oil and add the shrimp paste, taucu paste and chilli paste you made previously and sautee until fragrant.

Mix through the tomato paste, water, ketchup, sweet chilli sauce, rice wine vinegar, palm sugar and salt. Bring to a gentle simmer.

Add the crab pieces and toss to coat. Cover with a lid and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove the crab pieces and arrange on a serving platter.

Stir through the cornflour (dissolved in water) and egg until the sauce thickens.

Pour the thickened sauce over the crab pieces and garnish with coriander and spring onion.

Serve with steamed rice or mantou buns.


Step by Step Video

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