Last summer, Mr. Prevention and I were lucky enough to vacation to Singapore to visit our friend, Lena. She was an outstanding host and it will be hard to find another vacation as exotic, delicious, or hot! Singapore is really, really, REALLY hot!!
To be honest, I did very little research on Singapore before going and had no idea what to expect…other than a REALLY long flight. As it would end up, I excel at sleeping on planes for hours…and hours…and hours. No biggie. I soon discovered Singapore is the melting pot of Asia…or at least that’s what it seemed to me. Very few foods and people were “Singaporean”, it seemed. Rather, Singapore is a blend of many surrounding country’s people and cultures. There were influences from India, Malaysia, and China and cuisine from each of the various cultures was readily available…and divine.
One food that seemed “native” to Singapore was Dungeness crab, prepared several very unique ways. Needless to say, we spent HUNDRED of dollars on crab dinners. I could’ve stayed forever! For Valentine’s Day this year, Mr. Prevention requested a home-cooked meal of “Pepper Crab”.
Pepper crab is Dungeness crab that has been lightly fried in peanut oil and then smothered in a cracked black pepper and light butter rub. The pepper flavors are strong, but finger-licking, oh-so-addicting good. If you love the potent flavor of black pepper, and happen to enjoy crab legs, this recipe is a must-make. It is a near perfect remake of the crab we demolished in Singapore. I sure won over my Valentine with this one 😉
Singapore Black Pepper Crabs from Sea Salt with Food
2 Dungeness crabs, legs removed (or 8 crab legs + claws)
5 Tbsp coarsely ground black peppercorn
5 Tbsp unsalted utter
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
pinch of 5 Spice Powder
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup peanut oil
Dry fry the black peppercorn on a low heat until fragrant, and set aside.
Meanwhile, put the oil in a large wok, or large deep saucepan and heat over high heat until rippling. Add the crab legs into wok. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, and then transfer to a colander to drain off excess oil. Set crab legs aside.
Melt the butter, and mix in the garlic and give the mixture a quick stir. Then add black pepper, white pepper, 5-spice powder, oyster sauce, rice wine, chicken stock, and mix well. Toss in the crabs and stir until all the crabs are coated with the sauce. Transfer the crabs to a serving plate and serve immediately.
Yield: 2 servings.
Nutrition Information (per serving): 550 calories; 36.5 g. fat; 95 mg. cholesterol; 1515 mg. sodium; 27 g. carbohydrate; 4.5 g. fiber; 33 g. protein
Result: Divine! Sadly, this wouldn’t qualify as “healthy”…by a long shot. I did decrease the butter and the oil is drained off. Because the crab is “fried” while in the shell, very little is absorbed (I measured 1 tablespoon). But between the butter and the pepper, this recipe is made. 🙂 Enjoy!
As for me, I preferred the Chili Crab preparation of Dungeness crab while in Singapore. I was opportunistic and prepared this dish for our Valentine’s Day meal, too. I mean, why not, right?
How to describe Chili Crab? Hm. Sweet, salty, tangy, spicy, and just like Pepper Crab…the sauce is finger-licking good. This take on Singapore Chili Crab isn’t as close of a replica, but it was still a thumbs-up and impressive recipe. Chili Crab was, hands down, my favorite eat in Singapore and I thoroughly enjoyed bringing a taste of Singapore into my kitchen 😉
Singapore-Style Chili Crabs from Tyler Florence
8 cooked Dungeness crab legs + claws
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp hot chili paste
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp tamarind paste
3 Tbsp peanut oil
4 scallions, sliced thin
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 serrano chile, chopped
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
Crack the legs and claws with the back of the knife or a hammer and set aside.
In a bowl mix the ketchup, chili paste, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and tamarind paste; thin it with 1/4 cup water and set aside.
Pour the oil into a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the scallion, ginger, garlic, serrano chile, and cilantro and cook for 1 minute. Add the crab and stir-fry for another minute. Pour in the sauce and continue cooking, stirring often, until the crab has absorbed the sauce and the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Plate and garnish with cilantro, if desired.
Yield: 2 servings.
Nutrition Information (per serving): 371 calories; 17 g. fat; 95 mg. cholesterol; 1982 mg. sodium; 23.5 g. carbohydrate; 2 g. fiber; 31.5 g. protein
Result: Sweet, salty, tangy, and spicy! You won’t mind digging in and getting chili crab sauce all over your hands…because then you get to lick it off! This version is spicy, but also sweet. And outside of the issue of sodium with all the condiments in the sauce, it’s relatively healthy! And delicious!
As intimidating as cooking crab may look, don’t fear the crab! Dungeness crab is readily available in most local grocers at the seafood counter or in the freezer section. If you’re a seafood-lover, I cannot urge you enough to try shellfish recipes at home – so simple and QUICK…plus, much, much cheaper than dining out!