Crabbing is something that we've been meaning to do as a family for some time now. However, we only managed to brave the whole idea after we joined some people we know for a short crabbing session last year. In fact, I shared the recipe for Blue Crabs and Vegetables in Coconut Sauce - which was the product of the crabbing session. But, even with that experience, we only really went on our own crabbing last weekend.
On the first day, we only caught small crabs. But, since we can't legally keep those crabs, we ended up throwing about 50 small crabs back in to the sea. The next day, we went out again. And that time, we were much happier after catching 3 decent-sized sand crabs and 1 big blue crab. And, I decided to give cooking chilli crabs a go.
You see, I discovered chilli crabs when I was living in Singapore some time ago. And, it was love at first bite. In fact, every time I get the chance to visit Singapore again, the trip is not complete without eating chilli crabs in a Chinese restaurant or hawker centre.
Since I haven't had chilli crabs for a while, I thought I might as well try cooking them. So, I searched for recipes on the 'net and found some that seemed interesting including this and this. But, I decided to make some adjustments while I was cooking. And, since I've had a few requests to share my recipe, I thought I'd write it down here for easy access -
3 tbsp white sugar (or more, if wanting more sweetness in sauce)
3 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
8 cloves of chopped fresh garlic
4 pieces of chopped fresh red chilli (I used Thai-style chillis but other types of red chilli might also work)
5 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp garlic and herb salt
2 spring onions, chopped in to small pieces
2 tsps fresh lime juice (or lemon or cumquat juice)
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Mix the sauce ingredients together first in a big bowl. Just put together water, tomato sauce, cornflour, sugar, and salt and mix them using a fork until they're dissolved.
Heat the saucepan or wok and add the vegetable oil.
Sauté the chopped garlic until light brown (takes just a few seconds to a minute in a hot pan).
Add the chopped red chilli and sauté quickly until you can smell the spice.
Mix in the fresh crabs and fry them together until the crabs turn red (orange-y colour). The length of this will vary on the number of crabs being cooked at the same time - and their sizes.
Once the crabs are red, slowly add the sauce mixture in. Mix in the oyster sauce and the garlic and herb salt. Stir and let simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes. Again, this will depend on the crab sizes and number. You'll know when the crabs are cooked by the crab shell's colour (turning orange).
While still simmering, add the eggs in. And, break the eggs using your wooden spoon or fork. Make sure you do this quickly, so that the eggs won't get lumpy.
Then, add the freshly squeezed lime juice, spring onions and some fresh coriander. Stir.
Once cooked, put the crabs in a big serving dish and drizzle the sauce on top. Then, sprinkle the rest of the chopped fresh coriander.
I love eating this with fresh steamed white rice. And perhaps, a stir-fried vegetable dish (usually, bok choy with oyster sauce and garlic).
It's also great to eat chilli crabs with Chinese-style fried bread buns. I'm still on the lookout for recipes for those buns. Especially yummy for trying to make the most out of the sauce! Anyway, I'll let you know if I ever come across them.
Right now, I'm just sooo glad to learn how to make one of my all-time favourite dishes. Chilli crabs will probably be a much-requested dish during the summer crabbing season. 🙂
If you ever give this recipe, please let me know. I'd love to hear about it!
Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book.
A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list.
Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.