International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Ketam Cili Singapore

Singapore chilli crab in a spicy sauce

(Singapore chilli crab in a spicy tomato-chili sauce)

Image by Jonas Lamis

Average: 5 (2 votes)

If you love crab, you simply must try Singapore chilli crab, or ketam cili singapore in Malay. Considered by some to be Singapore's national dish, this saucy seafood stir fry has an amazing sweet-sour-salty flavor with just enough chile punch to wake up your tastebuds.

Messy? Yes! Mouthwatering? Absolutely!

4 to 6 servings


  • Whole crab, cleaned and cut into quarters -- 3 to 4 pounds
  • Shallots, peeled and chopped -- 4 or 5
  • Red bird's-eye chili peppers, chopped -- 4 to 8
  • Garlic, chopped -- 5 cloves
  • Oil -- 3 tablespoons
  • Shrimp paste (optional) -- 2 teaspoons
  • Tomato puree -- 1 cup
  • Soy sauce -- 3 tablespoons
  • Vinegar -- 2 tablespoons
  • Tomato paste -- 1 tablespoon
  • Sugar -- 1/4 cup
  • Salt -- to taste
  • Water -- 1/2 cup
  • Cornstarch -- 1 tablespoon
  • Eggs, beaten -- 2
  • Cilantro leaves, chopped -- 1/2 bunch


  1. Place the shallots, chilies and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Add the oil to a wok or large pot over medium-high flame. Add the chopped shallots and chilies and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp paste and continue to stir fry until the vegetables are cooked down and their moisture is reduced somewhat.
  3. Stir in the tomato puree, soy sauce, vinegar, tomato paste, sugar and salt. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes.
  4. Add the crab and toss to coat. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the crab is cooked through and the shells turn red.
  5. Whisk the cornstarch with the 1/2 cup water. and stir into the simmering crab to lightly thicken the sauce. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  6. Add the beaten egg to the ingredients in the wok or pot and stir into the sauce.
  7. Pour the chilli crab into a warm serving dish and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro. Serve with a sliced baguette to sop up any extra sauce.

Singapore Chilli Crab Variations

  • Types of Crab: In Singapore, mud crab is the most popular crab to use for chilli crab. Dungeness crab, stone crab, blue crab or most other types of crab will work well too.
  • Substitute a yellow or red onion for the shallots if you like.
  • Despite its name, chilli crab is usually only mildly spicy. Vary the amount of chilies to your taste.


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