Remember how I said I was going to work my way through drafts and archives? This is one of those, originally posted back in 2011 only to be re-made and photographed in March of last year — which of course means I want to go through the whole dance again for better photos…
It is spicy and messy in the best way possible. It takes ages to eat due to the process of picking the meat from the shells. It should be served on a newspaper-covered table while wearing clothes that are easy to wash.
It is, by nature of those characteristics, something that should only be eaten with someone you don’t mind spending an extended period of time with, and who can’t help but love you more when you are wearing a paper napkin bib and are covered up to your elbows in sauce.
If you’ve been around here for a bit you’ll find it no surprise that I love the irony of a spicy and not particularly romantically-geared recipe for February 14th. And in an interesting twist of fate I’m not only well on my way to a full menu if this keeps up, but am using this day as an opportunity to re-make old recipes.
Ah, Valentine’s Day. A day when greeting cards and jewellery stores and chocolate boxes and pretty much any other money-making venture insist you must spend copious amounts of money to show the one you love that you love them.
Pinterest has of course been spewing red hearts all over my feed since Christmas wrapped up — and there are nearly as many what to do for Galentine’s Day (the day before Valentine’s Day if you are wondering) promos out as there are for the day itself.
It even seems that retail and mass media have started to
capitalise jump on support (ahem) the anti-Valentine’s sentiment. If you can’t beat’em join’em, right? Because if we can’t sell you flowers for your significant other you can buy them for your best friend and even for yourself, because you deserve it, so spend up.
Ok, ok, don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-romance by any means. I just don’t like being told it has to happen on a particular day at twice the price. Bah. Messy, spicy crab on a random Sunday evening, just because? Now that wins every time — hands down.
But you are not here for my ranting (well not all of you anyway) so first go tell someone you love them just for the heck of it and then it’s on to the Chilli Crab.
Singapore Chili Crab
Spread newspaper on the table and tuck a paper napkin into your collar — then dive-in secure in the knowledge that from the first bite to the last drop of sauce it is worth every bit of mess. Adapted from my original Singapore Chilli Crab post.
Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a starter, multiply as necessary
- 2 – 3 Blue swimmer crabs, approx 1 kg
- ¼ cup cornflour
- sesame or avocado oil
- 3 small red chillies, sliced
- 2 Tbsp chopped lemongrass
- 2 heaped Tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp grated galangal (if you can find it)
- 1 generous Tbsp chopped coriander root and stems
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 generous Tbsp grated garlic
- 3 eshallots or 1/3 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup stock
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp rice syrup or other sweetener of choice
- Green onion (spring onions, shallots, scalions) thinly sliced
- Coriander leaves
- Lime wedges
- Sourdough, French bread or flat breads
Clean and quarter the crab. (Instructions below, photo tutorial coming soon… would you prefer video?)
Use a mortar and pestle to pound chillies, lemongrass, ginger, coriander and fish sauce to a paste. Combine garlic and eschallot in a small dish. Mix stock, tomato paste and rice syrup and set aside.
Dust crab in corn flour and shake off any extra. In a deep stockpot or wok, stir-fry crab in a Tbsp or two of oil until it just starts to turn red on the edges. Remove and set aside but do not wash pan.
Heat another Tbsp or two of oil in your pan and fry chili paste for about 30 secs until fragrant. Add garlic mixture and fry for a minute. Pour in half your stock mix to deglaze the pan, scraping any browned bits from the bottom.
Return crab to pan, toss to coat then stir through remaining stock mixture. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring once or twice to ensure everything cooks evenly.
Move crab pieces into a serving bowl and simmer sauce for another minute or two to thicken (if necessary). Pour sauce over crab and serve with green onion, coriander, lime and bread.
- To clean the crab: Lift triangle piece on the underside of the crab and remove. Lift top shell from the same edge where the triangle just popped off and remove with all the innards. Clean out gills (the spiky finger shaped bits) and guts. Rinse under water if you wish — some people like the yellow ‘mustard’ but it freaks me out. Using a large knife, cut through centre of the body into two halves. Cut each half again between 2nd and 3rd leg – leaving one quarter with a leg and a claw, and the other quarter with 3 legs.
gluten-free // dairy-free // soy-free // refined sugar-free
Amanda Michetti says
I love a blue swimmer… but I love chilli crabs even more!! I too have decided to re-shoot and re-post some older recipes.
Oh my gosh JJ! This looks absolutely amazing! Such a good idea to serve it on newspaper too… the notorious mess can be thrown away in one fell swoop! Your photos are gorgeous. I cannot wait to try the recipe, it looks drool-worthy xx
brenda hayes says
Love you, Sweetie!
The Life of Clare says
This looks amazinging. I love your take on valentines day. Much like ours really. We didn’t do anything different to a regular day, but this would make any day extra special.
Annie @ The Random Foodie says
oooooh i love singaporean chilli crab! so messy but so many wonderful flavours!
that looks incredible!! and yes please to the video!
Martyna @ Wholesome Cook says
Oh yes to Singapore Chilli Crab. Not so much to Vday cards and chocolates – I’m actually terrible at giving any sorts of cards altogether. While we did fly to Melb this past V-day weekend, it was because Matt and I had meetings on both Friday and Monday so we made a weekend out of it and caught up with some friends too.
Sara | Belly Rumbles says
I too have started the re-do and shoot of early blog recipes. When I look back some don’t even have pictures, OMG!
I love Singapore Chilli Crab, and believe it or not, is on my re-do list! Looks delicious JJ