Singapore-style wokked crab

  • medium
  • 4
  • 1 hour 30 minutes
Not yet rated

Including a recipe for smoked chilli sambal and tomato relish, this Singapore crab recipe will leave you with plenty of goodies to use in future dishes. Chef Anna Hansen is a fan of Singaporean food, in her words:

'This recipe has been evolving since The Modern Pantry opened. Every time I cook it, the wonderful aromas transport me back to happy memories of eating glorious Singaporean food, and although I am certain it is far from authentic it seems to have the same impact on many of our diners. At the restaurant, we serve it with coconut rice and pickled lotus root. Be sure to supply plenty of bibs and fingerbowls when serving!'

First published in 2015
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Smoked chilli sambal

Tomato relish

Frying paste


To finish the sauce

  • 400ml of light fish stock, or vegetable stock

To serve


  • Food processor


Before making the dish, you will need to make the chilli sambal and tomato relish. To make the sambal, preheat a deep-fryer (of large, deep pan) to 180°C
  • rapeseed oil, for deep frying
In separate batches, deep-fry the tomatoes, peppers and onions until deeply golden, almost to the point of being burnt. After each ingredient is ready, drain on kitchen paper before adding to a large mixing bowl. Once cooked, deep-fry the garlic and ginger separately until lightly golden, drain, then add to the large bowl
Add a spoonful of the cooking oil to a pan and fry off the dried shrimps until aromatic. Add to the bowl with the remaining ingredients and mix to combine. In batches, add the sambal mix to a blender and blitz until almost smooth, then empty into a clean bowl. Once all of the mix has been processed, stir well until well-combined and place in an airtight container. Keep in the fridge until required (it will keep for several months in the fridge)
For the tomato relish, add the oil to a heavy-based pan and place over a medium heat. Once hot, add the spices, ginger and chillies and fry until the spices are aromatic and begin to crackle in the pan. Stir in the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil and skim away any frothy scum that rises to the surface
Turn the heat down and cook on a gentle simmer for approximately 40 minutes, until thickened and glossy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before storing in sterilised jars. Alternatively, keep the relish in an airtight container in the fridge
Place the crabs in the freezer for 2 hours before cooking - this will render them insensate
  • 2 crabs, live, each weighing 700-800g
Fill a very large pan big enough to hold both crabs with room to spare 3/4 full with water, and add 125g of sea salt per 5 litres of water. If you don't have a pan big enough, cook one crab at a time
Bring the water to a rolling boil, add the crabs and return to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for a further 20 minutes
Once cooked, pour the crabs and water into a clean sink to drain, then refresh with cold tap water to halt the cooking process and clean the crabs
When the crabs have cooled completely, delicately twist off the claws and very gently crack them - you need to be careful when doing this as too forceful a breakage will mean more bits of shell in your final dish
Place the crab on its back and remove the pointy flap in the middle of the belly. Grasp the body of the crab with one hand, and use the other hand to pull away the head. Discard the 'dead man's fingers' and stomach sac, which is located behind the mouth. Keeping the legs attached, cut the body of the crab into quarters. Reserve the heads until later
To make the frying paste, simply place all of the ingredients into a food processor and blitz to a smooth paste
For the sauce, add 2 tbsp of the smoked chilli sambal, 2 tbsp of tomato relish and the remaining sauce ingredients to a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Add the reserved head and shells of the crab to the oven. Meanwhile, add a dash of oil to a large wok and stir in the frying paste, cooking out for a couple of minutes. Stir in the crab pieces, in 2 batches if you wok isn't very big, and cook through for 5 minutes, tossing the crab to coat evenly in the paste
Stir in the sauce and the light fish stock to finish, then cook out until the sauce is slightly reduced. To serve, divide the crab between 2 sharing bowls, placing the head shells on top to decorate. Sprinkle over the Thai basil, chilli, spring onion and coriander, and serve immediately
First published in 2015

Whether you call it 'fusion', 'global' or 'basically indescribable' is beside the point; Anna Hansen's food is without a doubt fresh and adventurous - you might even call it modern.

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