While some Malaysians might claim to have first pioneered this recipe, Singaporeans believe it was invented by the enterprising chefs at the Long Beach Seafood Restaurant in the fifties. Whatever its origins, tourists and locals alike are simply spoiled for choice when it comes towhere to eat black pepper crab in Singapore, with enough options to suit all budgets and preferences.
However, for those who wish to recreate the magic of this southeast Asian favourite in their own home and want to know how to make black pepper crab themselves, it’s important to remember that freshness is key to achieving the specific mixture of tangy tastes and fiery flavours that make this such an effective dish. In particular, quality whole peppercorns bring a zing that just isn’t present with inferior alternatives, while fresh coriander leaves are much preferable to dried ones or ground. And of course, the best Singapore black pepper crab recipe calls for the finest and freshest of crustaceans at its centre; if possible, buy a live crab and kill it at home before cooking.
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
2kg mud crabs (or 2kg blue swimmer crabs), scrubbed 125ml vegetable oil 35g black peppercorns, lightly crushed 4 garlic cloves, sliced 5cm ginger, peeled and sliced ½ bunch spring onions, sliced 2 long red chilies, sliced 60ml soy sauce 60ml oyster sauce 2 tsp caster sugar 80g butter 125ml chicken stock 1 bunch coriander, stems removed
Begin by preparing the crabs. First break off their tail flaps, pull back the apron and remove their top shell, soft gills and stomach sacs, discarding all of these unwanted pieces. Cut each crab into quarters, before cracking their legs and larger claws (using a meat mallet, if necessary) to ensure the meat cooks evenly and the flavours can enter freely. Rinse the crab and pat dry with paper towels.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large wok over a high heat and add the crab pieces in batches. Stir fry until the meat is nearly cooked through and the shells have turned bright orange, which should take under five minutes. Remove the cooked pieces using tongs and dry on paper towels, before repeating with the other batches until everything is cooked.
With the wok now empty, add the garlic, ginger, peppercorns and half the chilies, as well as half the spring onions. Cook on a high heat, stirring constantly, for one minute until the mixture becomes fragrant. Add the butter, chicken stock, oyster sauce, soy sauce and sugar and simmer for a further minute. Return the crab pieces to the wok and cook for four minutes more, before removing everything from the heat. Garnish with the coriander and the remaining chili and spring onion and serve immediately. Voila! That’s how to make black pepper crab, Singapore-style.