2018 MasterChef win­ner Sashi Che­liah kicks off his year as a de­li­cious. colum­nist with a Sin­ga­porean clas­sic you’ll want to get your claws into.

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Wel­come 2018 win­ner Sashi Che­liah.

FOR MY FIRST recipe for de­li­cious., I’m look­ing to my Sin­ga­porean her­itage. Not only is it one of the coun­try’s na­tional dishes – you’ll find it in ev­ery hawker cen­tre and seafood restau­rant around the city – more im­por­tantly, it is also my wife Rabicca’s favourite meal.

I’m talk­ing about chilli crab, which is most com­monly made us­ing mud crab. The se­cret to achiev­ing amaz­ing re­sults is to choose good-qual­ity crab meat. And then there’s the sauce… The crab is cooked in a chilli paste un­til the meat is suc­cu­lent and ten­der. That sweet, spicy and tangy cov­er­ing will hook you from your first bite.

A great way to savour the sauce is with a serve of man­tou, a light and fluffy Chi­nese steamed bun. Though in Sin­ga­pore it’s com­monly fried when ac­com­pa­ny­ing chilli crab. Just dip it into that won­der­ful sauce and soak it all up.

Crab lovers usu­ally get their hands messy eat­ing this dish. Use your teeth, mal­lets and hands to crack open the shell and en­joy the meat – it’s all part of the fun. And the aroma you’ll un­leash adds to the whole ex­pe­ri­ence. Cooked at home, you can’t go wrong!


1 x 1.1kg live mud crab 10 dried long red chill­ies, seeds re­moved 5 long red chill­ies, roughly chopped 30g galan­gal, peeled, finely grated 6 Asian (red) es­chalots, finely chopped 6 gar­lic cloves, chopped 1 lemon­grass stalk (white part only),

chopped 6 can­dlenuts (from Asian food shops –

sub­sti­tute wa­ter chest­nuts), chopped Juice of 1 lime 2 tbs bela­can (roasted shrimp paste) 100ml sun­flower oil 2 tbs caster su­gar 100ml tomato ketchup 2 eggs, lightly beaten Shred­ded long green shal­lot, co­rian­der sprigs and fried man­tou (op­tional – from Asian food shops), to serve

Freeze crab for 2 hours to put to sleep. Place crab on its back on a board. Work­ing quickly, lif t the ab­dom­i­nal flap and insert a knife through body di­rectly un­der­neath where the tip of the flap was. Insert knife through the shal­low de­pres­sion at the front of the body, be­low the mouth­parts, at a slight an­gle away from the face. Quar­ter crab, dis­card­ing gills. Us­ing a rolling pin, gen­tly crack claws part-way through. Chill un­til needed.

Mean­while, soak dried chill­ies in a bowl of warm wa­ter for 20 min­utes or un­til soft­ened. Drain and chop. Whiz all chill­ies, galan­gal, es­chalot, gar­lic, lemon­grass, can­dlenut and lime juice in a food pro­ces­sor to a paste.

Heat a wok or large fry­pan over high heat. Add bela­can and cook, stir­ring con­stantly, for 1 minute or un­til fra­grant. Add chilli paste and cook, stir­ring reg­u­larly, for 2 min­utes or un­til dark­ened slightly. Add oil and bring to a sim­mer. Add su­gar, ketchup and 1/2 tsp salt flakes, and cook, stir­ring reg­u­larly, for 2 min­utes or un­til re­duced slightly. Add crab and 1 cup (250ml) wa­ter, stir­ring un­til well com­bined. Re­duce heat to a gen­tle sim­mer, cover and cook for 10 min­utes or un­til claw meat is just cooked through. Stir through egg and cook, stir­ring con­stantly, for 1 minute or un­til cooked through.

Scat­ter with shal­lot and co­rian­der, and serve with man­tou, if us­ing.

de­li­ For more great crab recipes.

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