Chili crab is unofficially the national dish of Singapore, a food-obsessed where locals still debate which is “number one” into the wee hours of the night. This recipe, with its copious amount of gravy, is modeled after Mellben Seafood’s version, which is served with piles of fried bread cubes to sop up the sweet, spicy gravy. A modern dish that fuses the best of the traditional (a Malay-style spice paste, rempah) and new (ketchup).
Yes, ketchup. After all, ketchup’s ancestry can be traced back to Southeast Asia in the form of an Indonesian fermented sauce called “keciap.” When the British brought this sweet concoction to their colonies in the New World, tomatoes became the dominant ingredient. Ketchup is now an authentic ingredient in chili crab. Not that they’re using Heinz or Hunt’s: “Asian” style ketchups like Lee Kum Kee are much deeper red, have less spices and tangy flavor.
© 2008 Robert Danhi. All rights reserved.