A fusion of Indian & Singaporean cooking styles creates this mouthwatering stir-fry of crab legs sautéed with butter, pepper & kari leaves
I was straight out of University and a naïve 23 year old when I landed on the shores of Singapore. On my first day at work I was introduced to the woman who I'd work for - 'Cindy' (yeah, let's call her that). And one of the first things she said to me was, " I'm going to throw you into the water and either you'll sink or swim". Real charmer that one!
Anyway I can't complain because thanks to 'Cindy', at the end of one of the most grueling 3 years anyone can endure in a fast paced architectural firm, I had finally grown a backbone, had incredible experience behind me & an impressive resume to boot. She is also the one who introduced me to two of my very favorite Singaporean specialties - Chilly Crab & Pepper Crab.
It is impossible to work in corporate Singapore & not sooner or later feast on these two crabby delights - one with a red, egg sauce & the other with a spicy pepper sauce they are usually on the menu whether you are celebrating a win on a large tender or Chinese New Year or quite simply because well, you've had a crappy day at work & nothing else but spicy crabs & beer is going to take the edge off!
Needless to say, I ate gluttonous amounts of crab during my years in Singapore! Now if any of you are Singaporean Pepper crab leg purists, now would be the time to exit this post.
Because the version right here is a quick fix version, kid-and-adult-friendliesh not using the whole traditional mud crabs but rather king crab legs easily available in US supermarkets.
Also I have not deep fried the crabs like I'm supposed to because well, they were already pre-steamed ...cringe...There I said it! Now, I'm not saying I won't do the raw crab traditional version one day, soon but really - have you tried cracking those whole suckers with those crab thingmees, especially when you've got 2 hungry kids staring at you like you're going to be going at it till the cows come home!
So my quick Sunday brunch version is what follows - not completely authentic but still, oh so! terribly delicious!
Singapore Style Pepper Crab Legs Serves 4
Shopping list: 2 lbs. king crab legs 5 pieces of thinly sliced ginger 2-1/2 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper 2 tbsp. butter 1/4 cup canola oil
5 garlic cloves 3 long kari leaves stalks
1-2 'Thai' red chilies, depending on tolerance level 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup water Sauce:
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp sriracha or sambal chili paste
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch + 1 tbsp. water
King crab legs - Defrost if frozen. Then cut with kitchen shears at all joints. Cut any very long lengths into 3-4" lengths.
Ginger - Peel the skin & cut into thin slices
Garlic - Peel and roughly chop
Red Thai Chillies - Slit down the center
Kari leaves - Wash, leave stalks as- is & set aside
Black pepper corns - Freshly grind - fine but not to a dust
Cilantro - Wash, finely chop leaves. Discard stems.
Sauces - Combine in a bowl. Stir & set aside.
Cook's Note: Ventilate your kitchen when you make this, it's going to get spicy!
In a wok, heat oil till fuming. Add the ginger, garlic & red chillies. Stir for a few seconds. As soon as the garlic begins to brown, add the kari leaves and stir for a second or so.
Then add the ground black pepper and stir rapidly for a second or so and add the crab legs and continue stir-frying for couple of minutes or until the crabs legs are completely coated with the black pepper.
Add the butter and stir till melted.
Add the sauces and stir for a minute or so. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Remove to a serving platter and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.