Saturday, August 16, 2014

Singapore Chili Crab

I've have Singapore Chili Crab on my radar since my friend Belle mentioned it years ago. Then, during our summer camping trip, I heard about it again from Jake's cousin who had honeymooned in Singapore and other places around Asia. Okay. I just had to do it. A caveat: this is super messy to eat. So, don't wear anything white...and don't be embarrassed to lick your fingers. It is that good.


Bear in mind that this is a very 'inspired' version, not so much an exact replica. For instance, I subbed anchovy paste for the requisite shrimp paste and used fresh ginger throughout instead of a mixture of ginger and galangal. And there were no candlenuts (also known as kukui, I really didn't know those were edible!) to be found, so I used peanuts. Otherwise, I did make my own tomato ketchup and I think it turned out really well. I just wouldn't serve this to anyone from Singapore.

Ingredients
  • 2 two to three pound crabs, boiled and cleaned
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 3 shallots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 large knob of ginger, grated on micro plane
  • 1 C water
  • 1/2 C tomato ketchup (recipe below - it's not regular ketchup)
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/4 C ground roasted peanuts
  • Rempah (recipe below)
  • Crusty bread to serve and mop up the juices
  • fresh herbs, including cilantro, basil, and parsley

Tomato ketchup (note: this is not your regular ketchup)

  • 8 to 10 tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 large knobs ginger, diced
  • splash of olive oil

Rempah (this is not a traditional rempah, I used what I had)

  • 3 banana chiles
  • 4 poblano peppers
  • 1 T anchovy paste
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, diced
  • 1 T minced ginger
  • 1 large knob ginger
  • 4 T crushed peanuts (I used roasted, unsalted nuts)

Procedure
For the tomato ketchup:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roast your tomatoes for approximately 1 hour.


Destem your tomatoes and place them in a blender or food processor. Add in your garlic and ginger. Blend till a smooth consistency.


Pour the puree into a large, flat-bottom pan. Simmer the ketchup until it's reduced - and concentrated - by approximately half. Set aside.


For the rempah:
Destem your peppers and blend them until they form a paste. In a large flat-bottom pan, heat a splash of olive oil. Brown the ginger, garlic, and lemongrass until fragrant. Add in the anchovy paste and crushed peanuts.

For the crab:
Cook the crab. Let it cool enough that you can handle it without burning your fingers. Pull off the legs and crack the claws. Chop the body into quarters. Don't discard the crab butter.

In a large pot, heat a splash of olive oil. Cook the garlic, ginger, and shallots until aromatic and softened. Add in the water, rempah, tomato ketchup, and honey. Place the crab pieces into the sauce and bring to a boil.


Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes or so. Add in the crushed peanuts. Uncover, turn the heat up, and cook for an additional 10 minutes till the sauce thickens.


To serve:
Place crab legs and body in a bowl. Spoon sauce over the top. Sprinkle with a chiffonade of fresh herbs, including cilantro, basil, and parsley. Serve with a side of crusty bread to mop up the sauce.


The verdict:
I don't see myself ever doing plain ol' crab boil again. This is too amazing. We're definitely going to make this a few more times come crab season. Thanks for the nudge, Obe, Andi, and Belle. I'm in love.

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