Singapore Cooking

Singapore, a small island off the coast of Malaysia, has been on the seafaring trade route between China and India for at least 1,500 years. The native Malay cuisine is highly spiced and centers around rice served with vegetables, meat and fish. Galangal, a ginger-like root, cloves, lemongrass, chilies and Indian curries are among the local flavors. Chinese emigrants brought their woks and recipes to Singapore in the 19th century. When Chinese men married into Malay families a special culture, Peranakan, developed with its own unique cuisine combing noodles, soy and tofu with local Malay spices.

Chili Crab

Dungeness crab pieces stir-fried in a spicy orange-chili-garlic oil and served with a sweet-sour dipping sauce.


3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar


1 live Dungeness crab
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 red jalapeƱo chili, seeded and minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
Sliced green onion

Getting Ready

  1. Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a pot of boiling water, parboil crab for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Pull off the top shell in one piece and reserve for garnish. Remove and discard the gills and spongy parts under the shell. Twist off the claws and legs; crack them with a cleaver or mallet. Cut the body into 4 pieces.


  1. Place a wok over high heat until hot. Add oil, swirling to coat sides. Add garlic, ginger, chili and orange zest; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add crab and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  2. Add sauce and reduce heat to low; cover and simmer, stirring once or twice, until crab is cooked, 6 to 7 minutes.
  3. Stir in egg and cook just until it begins to set, about 1 minute.
  4. Arrange crab and top shell on a serving plate. Pour sauce over all and garnish with green onion.

Adapted from Martin Yan's Asia (KQED Books & Tapes) Copyright Yan Can Cook Inc., 1997