Thursday, August 4, 2011

Black Pepper Crab versus chilli crab

Chilli crab and black pepper crab are very famous sea food dishes here for locals, expats and tourists. I personally find eating crab negative in terms of calorie because you burn more calories to eat the dish than you get from it. But still it is delicious and a must try in Singapore if you have not eaten before.

Black pepper crab is cooked in tick gravy made of black pepper and made with hard-shell crabs. It is said that this dish is originated in famous Singapore restaurant, Long Beach Seafood Restaurant in 1959. Chilli crab is cooked in a sweet and savoury sauce made of tomato and chilli. It is also said that this seafood dish is originated in Singapore in 1950 near present day East Coast Food Centre. I am using “said” because Malaysia claims that Chilli Crabs is a Malaysian dish that has been hijacked by Singapore.

According to Singapore Infopedia chilli crab is said to have been invented by Cher Yam Tian in the mid-1950s when she, on her husband Lim Choon Ngee’s suggestion, added bottled chilli sauce to her dish of stir-fried crabs which she had normally cooked with bottled tomato sauce:

"In 1956, the couple began selling the dish from a pushcart along the seaside. Business was good and they eventually opened a proper restaurant in 1962 called Palm Beach, at 514 Upper East Coast Road. In 1984, they sold off some of their shares in the business to migrate to New Zealand. 
Hooi Kok Wah, one of the four local chefs known as the “heavenly kings” of Chinese cuisine in the 1960s, is also considered a pioneer in the history of chilli crab in Singapore. When he opened the Dragon Phoenix Restaurant in 1963, Hooi had created a sourer version of chilli crab that used lemon juice, vinegar, sambal, tomato paste and egg white in the gravy instead of bottled chilli and tomato sauces. This has become the more common version of the dish in Singapore. 
In 2009, Malaysian tourism minister Ng Yen Yen claimed that chilli crab was one of several Malaysian dishes that had been wrongly credited to other countries. Many Singaporeans were indignant as chilli crab was widely regarded as a local creation. Ng’s claim has not yet been proven."
Source : Singapore Infopedia - Chilli Crab
Which one is better? Of course it depends on taste but although chilli crab is more promoted compared to black pepper crab by Singapore Tourism Board, it seems like more people like black pepper crab more over chilli crab. And I am one from that camp. Black pepper crab is drier and cleaner to eat and I like its pepper soaked taste and flavor.

Salted Egg Yolk Crab - Source : Lady Iron Chef
Where to eat these dishes? Many only know favorite restaurants like Jumbo Seafood restaurant chain, especially the outlet in East Coast Food Center and Long Beach Seafood Restaurant again in East Coast Food Centre.  But there are many other places serving great crabs in Singapore. Eng Seng Restaurant is quite good in black pepper crab but is usually very crowded in the evening so it is best to go before 5-6 pm.
You may well heard of chilli and black pepper crab but did you know that there are other crab dishes to give a try.  Salted Egg Crab, Salt and Pepper Crab and white pepper crab.  

1 comment:

  1. When I looked at the video, it is damn fun. I hope something similar can happen in Malaysia. I wuold to try those things too