How to make Singapore Chilli Prawns, prawns cooked in a thick, eggy, sweet, tangy and spicy gravy.
Chilli Crab is one of Singapore’s signature dishes. Instead of crab, I make it often at home using prawns! Prawns are more accessible, less messy to eat with and – in my opinion – a lot more easy to prepare. I’m *still* a bit squeamish about killing live crabs, so that’s on a back burner for now.
The Key Ingredients for the Best Sauce for Chilli Prawns
It’s all about the sauce, which looks deceptively hard to make, but actually really easy to make. You really need two key ingredients:
Dried Chilli Paste
Dried Chilli Paste is a blended paste of dried chillies, and cannot be replaced with anything else. With some recipes here that use dried chilli paste, you can replace it with sriracha or sambal oelek, but not with Chilli Crab/Chilli Prawns; it’s just different!
Dried Chilli Paste gives a deep roasted flavour, while making the thick and rich. You can purchase this ready-made – but it is usually salted so adjust the seasonings – but I would always recommend making your own! It’s easy, you can make this with most dried chillies and it keeps long. My easy, foolproof recipe here.
In this recipe, I added chopped onions to and garlic to the pan. If you are making your chilli paste from scratch, you can definitely blend the onions and garlic with the dried chillies to make a smoother paste.
Yes, your regular Heinz tomato ketchup that you dip your fries in is an essential ingredient!
I would not recommend replacing it with tomato puree or concentrate – it’s just not the same. This will make it taste more like marinara or pasta sauce.
How to Level Up Your Chilli Prawns Sauce
This is a basic recipe. I added just dried chilli paste, onions and garlic and the base chilli paste. If you have these ingredients on hand, or you want an even tastier sauce, then add these ingredients too:
- Belanchan or Dried Shrimp Paste
- Galangal or Blue Ginger
- Oyster Sauce
I’ve seen recipes floating around that uses Taucheo or salted soybeans as an ingredient, personally I would not add this. I also can’t quite detect taucheo in the Chilli Crabs served in restaurants here in Singapore. If you have taucheo, and like that layer of umami, feel free to add! I do not add simply because of taste preference.
What if I Want to use Crab?
Good news! This recipe is good for 1 Crab. Simply multiply according to the number of crabs you have. I would add more sauce though, I love sauce!
How to Serve Chilli Prawns or Crab?
This is amazing with some rice… but I love serving this with some Chinese steam mantou buns! I always just get the ready-made mantou buns. Instead of steaming the mantou buns, deep fry it until golden. It will have a crispy exterior, but still soft and fluffy on the inside. This soaks up the sauce so deliciously.
More recipes like this
Singapore Chilli PrawnsCourse: Recipes
10 Prawns (or 1 Crab)
2 tbsps Dried Chilli Paste
1/2 a medium Onion, chopped
1 tsp minced Garlic
2 tbsps Tomato Ketchup
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Palm Sugar (or regular white sugar)
1/2 cup Water
Cornstarch slurry: 1 tsp Cornstarch + 1-2 tbsps Water
1 egg (or 2 if you like it extra eggy~ like me)
2-3 stalks of Spring Onions, chopped
- Add oil to pan, and over low to medium heat add dried chilli paste, onions and garlic. Saute till fragrant and the chilli paste has dried down. See: How to properly cook dried chilli paste, or ‘pecah minyak’.
- Add tomato ketchup, salt, sugar and water. Stir to combine and allow to come to a boil.
- Once boiling, add prawns.
- Stir cornstarch slurry through to thicken.
- While stirring the gravy in one direction, gently pour in egg to create scrambled, stringy, custardy eggs. Allow the dish to come to a boil.
- Once the sauce bubbles, turn off the heat and garnish with spring onions.