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Singapore Black Pepper Crab

Singapore Black Pepper Crab

Singapore’s two major national dishes are Black Pepper Crab and Chili Crab; the former being preferred by the locals and Chili Crab a favorite of foreign tourists.
Course Main Course
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 2


  • 1 x whole crab about 1 kg
  • 100 g flour
  • 3 cloves garlic about 30 grams
  • 2 red onions about 45 grams
  • 10 g dried shrimp soaked in cold water for 20 minutes in advance
  • 10 g tempeh washed and dried, and then finely chopped
  • 15 g freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 small red peppers Not too hot or they will overpower the black pepper.
  • 50 g butter
  • 3 curry leaves. Curry leaves are delicious but can be omitted if you can’t get them. However it will just be pepper crab, not Singapore black pepper crab.
  • 20 ml light soy sauce
  • 10 ml soy sauce
  • 40 ml oyster sauce
  • 10 g sugar
  • 250 ml soup stock
  • 400 ml rapeseed oil for frying the crab pieces
  • Fresh coriander for garnish


  • Prepare the crab. If your crab is a precooked frozen, regardless if it is cooked or raw, careful attention must be paid when thawing.
  • It should be placed in a sealed bag in the refrigerator at 4 degrees Celsius and thawed slowly over 24 hours. Do not use your microwave to thaw the crab.
  • If your crab is alive, the most humane way to kill it is to put it in the freezer for an hour which will cause it to go to sleep first and then die.
  • Take the top of the body and with your thumb, press down at the back and then apply a bit of force to lift the cover off.
  • There is not much meat in the crab’s lid, and it is used for decoration only. Clean and dry the shell and put to one side. If the crab is raw, you will need to boil it until it changes color.
  • When you remove the crab’s cover, you will notice its finger-like gills and intestines, which you will need to remove.
  • Rinse under the faucet. You will have the crab shell and muscle. Trim any loose fragments with kitchen scissors.
  • Turn the crab over, and pull out the tail. The tail resembles that of the shrimp, which shows their common ancestry.
  • With a large sharp knife, cut the crab in half vertically down the center.
  • One by one, pull the two front claws and each of the legs from the crab’s body.
  • Cut the crab’s feet off at the joints.
  • Because the crab shell is hard it must be cracked so that eating is made easier. Using the blunt edge of a large knife or a meat mallet, fracture the shell of the crab pieces.
  • The crab preparation is now complete. Dry any moisture from the crab shell with paper towels.
  • Next, sprinkle the flour onto a plate and gently coat the crab pieces, shaking off excess. Coating the shell with flour will produce a crisp golden coating when fried allowing the sauce to adhere to the shell.

Make the sauce!

  • The sauce is the essence of Black Pepper Crab.Try to use fresh curry leaves, as the taste is far superior to the dried ones.
  • Take the 3 cloves of garlic and chop finely.
  • Slice the two red onions very thin – the thinner the better.
  • Wash the tempeh and pat dry. No matter what dish you are using tempeh in, it must be chopped to release and distribute the fragrance.
  • Soak the dried shrimp in cold water for 20 minutes,then dice into 2-3 mm pieces.
  • When choosing red peppers for this recipe, choose a mild variety. Generally the larger ones are milder than the smaller ones. Cut the pepper open and remove the seeds. Trim off the white parts and dice the pepper finely.

Now to the star ingredient

  • Preheat a small saucepan (14 cm or 16 cm) for half a minute and add the butter.
  • The butter will bubble, but wait until the bubble subsides and then add the garlic, red onion, red pepper, and the three curry leaves. Stir fry 2-3 minutes until the fragrance is released.
  • Turn down to low heat and add the grated black pepper, chopped tempeh, dried shrimp.
  • Add both soy sauces, oyster sauce, and sugar.
  • Stir fry for 2 minutes.
  • Add the hot soup stock, turn to low and simmer to reduce the liquid to 1/3, thickening and to concentrate the flavors. Turn off the stove and put the lid on the saucepan.

Fry the crab!

  • In a small soup pot heat the rapeseed oil on medium until the oil temperature reaches 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Gently drop the flour coated crab pieces into the pan and deep fry until the flour turns golden yellow.Remove and drain on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil. You need to do this step for both raw and precooked crab.
  • Heat your wok on high and transfer the fried crab pieces into it. Pour over the sauce and stir gently until the sauce is almost dry, and the solid ingredients stick to the crab pieces. Serve and garnish with a sprinkling of fresh coriander.