Chilli crabs with sweet-and-sour tomato sauce
Published on: Wednesday, October 19, 2022
By: Jessie in the Kitchen
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The ingredients for sambal, a chilli sauce or paste, include tamarind, belacan, or shrimp paste, as well as fresh and dried chilies. 
HAVE you ever had mud crabs served with a ginormous puddle of sweet-and-sour tomato sauce? Yes, that was my mother’s favourite recipe for seafood.

I still recall a time when I was young when my mother prepared sweet and sour crabs when we were still living in a rental home. 

On that day, there was a blackout. Additionally, it was swelteringly hot and humid. We were dining on those mouthwatering sweet and sour mud crabs outside the house by twilight. 

That was the most delectable and memorable crab dish I have ever had. Even though my mom was still making the same sweet and sour crab after we moved into a new home, the dish no longer tasted the same as it had that day. 

Maybe that was from my early memories!

However, I am going to tweak this recipe for sweet and sour chilli crabs today. Instead of using chilled crab, it is advised to use fresh crab. 

Because the meat will start to shrink and taste significantly worse if the crab is not freshly cooked and kept in the refrigerator for more than a day!

I enjoy spicy food, but this sauce also contains tomato puree, soybean paste, and the most vital component – sambal – in addition to chilli. 

The ingredients for sambal, a chilli sauce or paste, include tamarind, belacan, or shrimp paste, as well as fresh and dried chilies. 

The sauce will be thickened with eggs, and a big puddle of sauce will cover every crab.

You can either purchase pre-made sambal or make your own using the recipe provided below. 

Of course, not everyone like the sambal’s aroma or flavour. It can be left out. The crabs are still tasty without the spicy flavour.

I purchased 6 female and 4 male mud crabs for the dish. Usually, female crabs are more expensive than male crabs when served in restaurants. 

This is a result of the stomach’s yellow crab roe, which is the finest part of crabs to eat.

You still need utensils, such as chopsticks, tiny forks, or even your fingers, to suck every bit of succulent even if the crabs have already been cut in half and the shells pre-smashed.

Are you starting to drool over these delectable chilli crabs? Let us get all the ingredients to hand and detailed instructions to get started.

Ingredients (sambal)

15g dried chili 

2 fresh red chillies

3 large onions

10g of belacan/ shrimp paste

50g palm sugar

1 pc tamarind

1 cup cooking oil

½ cup water

Salt and sugar to taste


1. Cut and trim the dried chili into 2-3 pcs, boil in hot water until soft, and drained well.

2. Blend the soft dried chillies, fresh red chillies, onions, and belacan with little water till fine paste.

3. Heat the cooking oil in a wok, add the blended chili paste into the oil, sauté till aroma.

4. Add in palm sugar, tamarind peel, and salt, and continue to sauté over low flame for 30 mins. Cook till halfway, the paste will become thick, add in water, and continue to cook. 

Ingredients (Chilli crabs)

10 medium size of mud crabs 

2 tbsp soya bean paste (taucu)

6 garlic cloves, peeled 

    and slightly chopped

3 shallots, peeled and slightly chopped

5-inch ginger, peeled 

    and slightly chopped

2 tbsp SAMBAL

240g (1 can) tomato puree

½ cup THAI sweet chilli sauce

1 cup water

3 tbsp white vinegar

Salt and sugar to taste

Some fresh cilantros to serve


1. Take the crab’s carapace off. Wash, scrub and remove the top shell and the lungs. The crabs were cut in half. Save the female top shell with the yellow crab roe inside. Keep chilled until you are ready to use.

2. In a food processor, combine the soybean paste, garlic, shallots, and ginger. Blend into a paste and set aside. For this step, a mortar and pestle can also be used.

3. In a wok, heat the oil to a medium-high temperature. Belacan should be added and cooked until aromatic and roasted while being broken up into a paste. Cook and stir continuously until the colour darkens after adding the garlic paste from step 2. Stir thoroughly after adding the SAMBAL, tomato puree, and THAI sweet chilli sauce.

4. Stir in 1 cup of water after adding the crabs and the top shell, which contains yellow crab roe. Cover the pot and lower the heat to keep it simmering. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the crab is brilliant red and thoroughly cooked.

5. Crack and drop the egg in the sauce and slowly whisk in to create a silky sauce. Taste and season with vinegar, salt, and sugar. Place on a platter, then top with cilantro.  ENJOY!! 

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Blogspot: http://jessiefoodinthekitchen.blogspot.com


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