Sunday, December 09, 2007

Singapore Chili Crab

Twas a weekend of fulfilled promises. I got to try out sailing, and he got to try Singapore chili crab. On his part of the promise, I had the time of my life on the water and it was 100% PURE fun! Seriously can't wait to do it again!!! The most stressful part was probably making sure that we kept our heads way out reach of the boom.We took a smaller boat thus it was heaps more dynamic and only served to add to the thrill. The post-sailing theory session soon transpired into a leisurely Saturday afternoon with friends over aperitifs, snacks and Dutch goodies (Bolletje, which is a sort of spicy, gingerbready cookie and Amandelstaaf, an almond-meal based pastry very much similar to the french epiphany tart). Spices apparently were expensive in the older days and had to be shipped all the way from Indonesia, thus it was a rare treat and they use it extensively in their holiday cookies. This time, it was Sint Nicolaas. (Erm, something to do with Saint Nick I think) Splendid.

Took an impromptu tour of the HMS Endeavour at the Maritime Museum today after DB training. It was on the way to Chinatown where I wanted to get the ingredients for the chilli crab. The ship's really quite impressive. I found nothing to complain about on a taser after seeing the number of ropes they had on this ship. You see, they have like a different name for everything on the boat. This was for practical reasons too - in cases of storms etc, you can't be yelling "Grab that rope" cos it'll probably just elicit the inevitable response of "WHICH rope?!"

Will you just check out how quaint and lovely the officer's mess was? It's even nicer than my kitchen!!!

OK now on to my promise. I've never cooked chilli crab in my life and it was a tad worrying attempting this dish cos everyone who's been to Singapore raves nonstop about it. I looked up various recipes online, and there was one ingredient that was ubiquitous in quite a few recipes which had me stumped - tomato ketchup. Erm, that sounds so non-Asian or authentic for that matter. But after chewing on that thought for a bit and thinking about the taste of Jumbo chili crab, it actually started to sound plausible. I used the original maggi chili sauce in place of ketchup since it was also sweet but had that little bit of spicy kick.

The next worrying issue was dealing with the crab. But that task was swiftly left to the Asian grocerer who took care of the mud crab away from all the guilty eyes. Whew. No chopsticks up the crab's a*s and other such violent acts in the kitchen.

I used a combination of recipes and kind of went with trial and error towards the end. The crab flesh was springy, sweet and soft, and the sauce, tangy and spicy and deliciously flavoured with the ample crab juice. The hot, steaming, brioche-y mantous mopped up the eggy broth and was oh-so-satisfying. Heh. I feel like a true blue Singapore-lang now! ;p
Singapore Chili Crab
1 mud crab, chopped and cracked (~500g)
1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
5 tbsps of maggi chili sauce
tamarind juice (tamarind paste soaked in hot water)
2-3 tbsps crushed dried chilies
1 egg
1 cup water
1 tbsp brown sugar
1-2 tsp cornstarch
soy sauce to taste

Fry the ginger, garlic and chilli until fragrant. Add the chili crab and water and bring to boil for 2-3 mins. Add the tamarind juice (without pulp), sugar, soy sauce and chili sauce to taste. Add cornstach. Combine well with the crab and cook til the crab shell turns red. Beat one egg and add it in, stirring slowly. The sauce should take on a thick, almost custard-like consistency.
Serve with steamed or deep-fried plain mantous (available in the Asian supermarkets)

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