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Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Foodie Raises A Toast to the Singaporean Chili Crab




















Singapore is a melting pot of varied cultures. So, it hardly comes as a surprise that the local cuisine has influences ranging from Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian to even some Portuguese and English traditions. And most of this delicious food is eaten right off the streets, for this is a place where more people throng the hawker food stalls rather than paying a visit to a restaurant. Though the city has its fair share of good restaurants, street food wins hands down when it comes to the price and the sheer mind boggling variety.

For most folks, a Singaporean dish which brings instant recall would be the 'Satay'. Pieces of meat marinated in a sauce with distinct Asian flavors, grilled over a charcoal fire and served along with the skewer sticks still attached, it is always accompanied with a peanut sauce. So popular is this dish even in India that one will find it on the starters/entree section of the menu in most multi cuisine restaurants.

However Singapore is a seafood haven and any mention of the cuisine is incomplete without including one of the most iconic seafood dishes. For when it comes to the die-hard foodie in me, I cannot bear to settle for anything less that the luscious and tantalizing Singaporean Chili Crab. Meant to be eaten with both hands (take that as a mark of respect this dish deserves), it consists of a crimson velvety sauce with the right mix of the sweet, salty and spicy flavors enveloping a bright orange crab that has been cooked in its shell to retain all the juices (of course the shell been slightly cracked to let the seasoning just seep through). Highly celebrated by seafood lovers from any corner of this world, this is one of Singapore's national dishes for a good reason.

The very appearance of the dish packs in a powerful sensory punch. The fiery red hues of the sauce sets off the beautiful looking crab still ensconced in its shell which is the only thing standing in the way of pure ecstasy.  The succulent and juicy flesh of the mud crab perfectly complements the sweet and slightly pungent flavors of the sauce which is not generally not as hot as the name suggests. Though it is mainly tomato based, the addition of ingredients like shallots, garlic, galangal, soy sauce, eggs, shrimp paste and Thai chilies gives it a complexity and sensuousness that simply engulfs the tongue and the mind.  Even an iota of the delectable sauce is not meant to be wasted and so one have those accompanying buns (or even bread) to soak up every bit of that deliciousness.

No wonder that this amazing dish has made a mark for itself and is rated at No. 35 on the list of World's 50 most delicious foods complied by CNN Go in 2011. (And it also made it to my list of all time favorites)


This post is written for Far East Hospitality


1 comment:

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