Singapore Chile Crab is considered the national dish. It has spread all the way north to Bangkok where chefs add their Thai variations. This is a messy eat with your hands dish as the crab is covered in yummy spicy sauce. Beware and don't wear a white shirt when eating this slurping good dish. The flavour is greatly enhanced by the crab meat being in the shell. Softshell crabs can be used which does limit the messiness a bit.
In Southeast Asia the street vendors and restaurants that sell chile/chili crab commonly use hard-shell crabs. You control the heat to your taste by adjusting the amount of chiles used. Of course Thais love their heat and use copious amounts of chiles in this type of dishe
Chili crab is traditionally served with Chinese-style steamed buns called mantou, but a baguette, or San Francisco Sourdough French Bread which is our favourite is great for dipping in the sauce. Excellent with an ice colkd beer!!!
2 fresh Dungeness crabs, about 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 pounds each *
6-10 Thai Dragon red-ripe chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced
1-2 tablespoons minced garlic, as to your taste
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh peeled ginger **
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus additional
For the sauce:
¼ cup catsup
¼ cup Srirachi Sauce
1 1/4 cups water
1-2 tablespoon fish sauce (Nam Pla)** *
1/3- 1/2 cup Thai sweet chile sauce to taste****
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch combined with 2 tablespoons water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons julienned green onions for garnish
Crusty San Francisco Sourdough French Bread is yummy to dip up the sauce.
• Soft Shell crabs can be used and are amazing in this recipe!
**Tip peel ginger using the back of a spoon racking down the root
*** Use fresh and good quality fish sauce such as Golden Boy or Dragonfly Brand.
****Thai Sweet Chile Sauce flavours of various brands differ greatly, so adjust amount to taste. Mae Ploy is a pretty good brand.
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area fresh Dungeness crabs are available either cooked or live from tanks. Many markets boil them several times a day. I know this is also true up the coast of Oregon and Washington. I NEVER buy frozen Dungeness crab as it is fishy to me. Fresh Dungeness crab is so sweet and succulent and wonderful.
If you buy a live crab just pop the crabs into a large pot of boiling lightly salted water. Cook until they are just barely cooked. If you over cook them the meat can become tough.
Remove the crabs to drain and cool enough to handle. Cleaning a Dungeness Crab is quite easy: Remove the top shell, remove the gills, and remove the legs by twisting or a strong clever. The tamale is a delicacy to many so don’t toss it out. It adds to the sauce or mopped up with bread. If you want to boil the shells to make a crab bisque the tamale can be added to the bisque for an extra rich flavour.
If you prefer to just wash this goodness down the drain-OK, but you are truly missing a treat!
Place the chiles, garlic, shallots and ginger with a little oil if necessary in a mortar and pestle and pound until a smooth paste is formed, or add to the bowl of a small food processor process.
Combine all sauce ingredients.
Heat a wok over moderately high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil and heat until hot. Add chili and garlic paste and stir-fry 1 minute. Add crabs and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes or until shells turn red. Add sauce ingredients, bring to boil and simmer, covered, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer crabs to serving dish.
Bring sauce in wok to a boil. Stir cornstarch mixture and add to wok. Simmer until thickened. Gradually add eggs in a stream, whisking, and cook for 1 minute. Pour sauce over crabs and garnish with scallion.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings