These crustaceans are transformed into a delectable dish by being cooked in a delicious chilli gravy.
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Malaysians have always had a special affinity for crab. It is one of the most common seafoods ordered during meal times, especially among the Chinese folks here in Malaysia. Crab can be quite pricey, often reaching up to RM40 to RM50 per kilogram. Some of the more common types of crab found in Malaysia are the mud crab and the flower crab.
One of the more famous crab dishes is Chilli Crab. This dish originated from Singapore and is a simple but hearty meal. For this dish, mud crab is favoured but other types of crab are also used. The crab is usually steamed with ginger or lightly fried to cook the meat before it is stir-fried with a thick gravy. The gravy is made of a combination of chilli and ketchup sauce and thickened with cornstarch. Light soy sauce, garlic and other ingredients are added to the sauce to give it more flavour before pouring in beaten eggs, giving the dish its signature look. Steamed buns known as man tou or toasted bread are often served with the dish so that customers can soak up the rich gravy with them and eat it. Prior to stir-frying the crab, the shell is lightly cracked so that diners will have an easier time getting to the meat.
Another style of chilli crab that is common is a drier, spicier and tangier version of Chilli Crab. The base of the dish normally uses dried shrimp, curry leaves, black pepper and cili padi or curry powder to give it that spicy and fragrant flavour. The crab is first steamed or lightly fried to cook the meat before stir-frying it with the cili padi, curry leaves and dried shrimp. This dish is usually eaten together with rice. In most seafood restaurants, mallets are also provided with crab dishes so that the customers can crack some of the tougher shells with it without chipping their teeth. Some of the best crab meals are often enjoyed with messy hands and gentle hammering on the crab shells to prevent pieces of this succulent delicacy from flying through the air.