18 Jun2009


Chilli Crab has become the signature “house dish” when we are at the beach. when we have guests and there is an abundance of crab at the market, we almost inevitably cook up a large pot of chilli crab. And while we normally serve this with steamed white rice, I find that many of our guests like to take some of the chilli crab sauce (of which we make an intentionally large amount) and mix it into their rice while enjoying the crab meat they are extracting from the shells. So last weekend, I had what I thought might be a brilliant idea and decided to make a batch of “Chilli Crab Rice” which included the peeled crab, some shrimp and the sauce so that it was a total meal in one dish… and no peeling necessary…


First steam 2 to 3 kilos of alimasag or alimango and after they are cool enough to handle, extract all of the crabmeat and set this aside. In a large pan, start off with a few tablespoons of butter, then add several tablespoons of finely chopped ginger, then onions, then garlic. I added half a kilo of peeled, deveined and sliced shrimp and sauteed that for a minute or two, a couple of sliced siling labuyo or bird’s eye chillies, some salt and pepper, tabasco if you like or other chilli sauce, then an egg and stir to thicken the sauce a bit.


Add the rice, ideally cooked several hours before or even the night before so that it has dried out a little, and stir until all of the grains are coated with the sauce. Add in the peeled crab meat, reserving some of the crab meat to garnish the top of the platter. Sprinkle in some chopped chives or green onions and or some chopped cilantro and serve hot.


It all sounds scrumptious, right? So why wasn’t this a slam dunk of a dish then? All of the elements of the chilli crab were there. You didn’t even have to pick your own darned crabs. And you could eat this with a fork or chopsticks and get all of the same calories without the fuss and muss. But oddly, while good, this wasn’t amazingly good. The rice was a bit too wet and soggy from all of that sauce, a bit like bad tomato-ey risotto. The shrimp and crab were drowned out by the rice (maybe I just put too much rice, but if I put less, the crab and shrimp to rice ratio would have been outrageously high and therefore seriously expensive).


For some reason, the idea behind this dish was better than the reality. I think part of the thrill and joy of eating chilli crabs is digging through the shells, sucking the sauce off your fingers and eating it at a pace that you can extract the meat. Then the occasional mouth full of rice and a bit of sauce just makes it all so yummy.


But having all the work done for you and mixing it all in a bowl like a “Mongolian Barbecue” just didn’t cut it for me. Mind you, we wiped out all of the rice in one meal. And the crew thought this was quite good, and that’s coming from the experts… But I think that unless you have an unplanned bounty of crab and shrimp and don’t know what to do with it, this dish is best left to one’s imagination, rather than making it a reality…


Then again, more fat like butter and oil, less tomato, more crab… who knows… this may still work for some of you intent on enjoying a Chilli Crab Rice! :)



  1. Peach says:

    What if you mix in good quality bottled aligue (Milky Way or Claude Tayag) with the rice? I make this suggestion at the risk of being dissed as I am not a seasoned cook :-)

    Jun 18, 2009 | 10:50 am


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  3. Maria Clara says:

    I cannot think of anything else that went wrong with your chili crab shrimp rice. You are right on your punches – you saved your guests with a lot of picking job and making it easier to a nice manicured hands so the nail polish stay shiny and brilliant. As the picking your own meat from the crab shell is kind of fun thing to do especially at a round table conversation I find it daunting after three or four picks. Perhaps, you have to cook the chili crab your usual and customary way, pick the crabs and save the sauce and use that sauce in your day old cooked rice for chili crab rice. Another idea I have in mind perhaps BettyQ’s XO Sauce will really ignite the yummy factor to a max. Only a thought. I never make fried rice without BettyQ’s XO Sauce and Sriracha chili sauce. Even the big league chefs give their approval to Sriracha chili sauce which is one of their secret ingredients.

    Jun 18, 2009 | 11:12 am

  4. k. ramos says:

    I miss crab… I also miss eating curacha with Ma’s special sauce..

    Jun 18, 2009 | 11:16 am

  5. CJ says:

    yummy!!! I’ll try this next Sunday =)

    Jun 18, 2009 | 11:44 am

  6. Cris Jose says:

    Maybe you shouldn’t have mixed in the rice and use it as a rice topping instead… with the claws as garnish?

    Jun 18, 2009 | 12:35 pm

  7. Peach says:

    Just another idea. You can try using brown rice which is more absorbent and dry than white rice. That way you won’t get a soggy malapsa result.

    Jun 18, 2009 | 1:38 pm

  8. proteinshake says:

    Helloo MM,
    It may work with a gas stove, very high heat, large cast iron wok, and a Chinese fried rice way of cooking it. Or OK, just use high heat in some kind of wok.
    Perhaps if you sauted the raw shrimp and crab in peanut oil, garlic, onion, ginger , chilis….until half cooked .. then set aside. Then half cook scrambled egg… set aside. Then saute and heat up day old cooked rice in a bit of oil until it is even drier. Then mix seafood mixture with rice, add (still soggy) egg, add chili/tobasco sauce… heat until evrything is “dry”. But, this method is waaay fattier because you need a lot of oil for that “dry fried” goodness
    As a Chinese, I may also add salty fish and shredded lettuce.
    Hope this helps.

    Jun 18, 2009 | 2:00 pm

  9. Beth says:

    I agree!The joy of eating crabs and shrimps is indeed in the slow peeling off their shells,licking and sucking the juices and making a mess of your manicure!Yummy!

    Jun 18, 2009 | 2:07 pm

  10. fg says:

    maybe adding raw rice instead? but adjusting the cooking method of course like adding more seafood stock for the rice to cook just perfectly and not overcooked (almost paella style). but i have to say, it looks delish…even with the soggy rice. :)

    Jun 18, 2009 | 2:50 pm

  11. dee says:

    looks dee-lish… unfortunately I’m allergic to crustaceans. =

    Jun 18, 2009 | 3:51 pm

  12. nina says:

    this looks so yummy! i’m allergic to crabs but take claritin beforehand :)

    Jun 18, 2009 | 6:10 pm

  13. sanojmd says:

    looks so good!

    Jun 18, 2009 | 7:40 pm

  14. chad says:

    Its a matter of science. with a mouthful of chili crab rice, guess what you taste first? Rice. With a mouthful of chili crab and rice, you taste 1st the sauce, then the sweetness of the crab, then the starch of the rice. Therein lies the magic. in chili crab rice, the rice is already cooked, therefore it is watery and starchy and bland. Using day old rice might be better, since it has lost most if its moisture content and would absorb your sauce more, but i suspect it wouldnt be much of a payoff too. Making it a base for risotto however, is an entirely different notion altogether. Its certainly a good idea to try (although traditional risotto calls for subtlety and harmony in flavors, rarely a kick of oriental spiciness). anyways simply put in the chilli crab +rice, the star is the crab, while in chili crab rice, the star is the rice. This semi-psychological fact is in itself powerful na di ba?

    Jun 18, 2009 | 10:24 pm

  15. Vicky/Evic Go says:

    Your recipe sounds like a shell-less paella. It might be a good idea then to use a paella pan to cook it in – large, shallow pan over very hot stove.

    Another variation I would suggest is to cook the crabs/shrimp mix separately, prepare the sauce separately. Then make plain sinangag/fried rice w the day old “maligat” rice, lots of garlic. Put all 3 in serving bowls plus condiments/garniture: more fried garlic flakes, scallions, patis w kalamansi, etc. Let guests assemble a bowl of their own just before eating – fried rice first, crab/shrimp mix next, sauce on top, then a sprinkling of the garnishes! Now that would be a very moveable & moving feast!

    Jun 18, 2009 | 10:37 pm

  16. Lilibeth says:

    Did you put tomato sauce too or just chili sauce?

    Jun 19, 2009 | 1:25 am

  17. kim says:

    probably use your original chili crab next time but add more sauce … take out the crab & shelled shrimp … then add leftover rice to the remaining sauce, that way you still have your chili crab/shrimp rice & stl get to savor eating the shrimp & the crab by hands !

    i usually do it this way when i cooked spicy garlic shrimp … the sauce is too good to be wasted kaya sinisimot ng rice ( we call it “kunas” in bicol )! hubby complains about the shell, but i enjoy peeling n the best part’s in the head ! bad cholesterol sabe ni mother ! :)

    ill try adding ginger next time like you did … see what difference it makes !

    Jun 19, 2009 | 1:27 am

  18. paolo says:

    one word – ” talangka ”
    sorry MarketMan but talangka will be a winner over this dish hehehe

    Jun 19, 2009 | 1:47 am

  19. Ted says:

    paolo, do you mean talangkanin?

    Jun 19, 2009 | 4:35 am

  20. Cecilia says:

    I do like the idea of Maria Clara and Kim of cooking the original crab recipe, then just incorporating the rest … Sounds so yummy, it should be worth another try, MM … Talangka, m-mmmmmm.

    Jun 19, 2009 | 4:50 am

  21. Ted says:

    MM, off topic, just want to thank you for your “Macaron” posts, for i wouldn’t know what i was missing. I found them in Yountville, CA, made by Bouchon Bakery. I had a taste of all the flavors they made that day,,, tried the raspberry, hazelnut, caramel and chocolate,,,,omg I could not believe the texture and the taste, it’s heavenly. That bakery also made the best almond croissant i every tasted, lol.

    Jun 19, 2009 | 5:15 am

  22. Maria Clara says:

    Ted: If you happen to be in Vegas go to Wynn’s and Paris. They have all the big name European bakers and chocolatiers housed in one roof.

    Jun 19, 2009 | 5:43 am

  23. kim says:

    i missed marias clara’s first post … will you please share betty qs XO sauce ???

    yes, i found out sriracha is the best ! a very good sub to labuyo or dried chilis …. another tip my sis taught me is to use knorr or maggi savor :)

    want something sweet, salty & spicy – sugar, knorr & sriracha is the secret (*_*)

    Jun 19, 2009 | 6:09 am

  24. marissewalangkaparis says:

    The fun is in eating the crabs and ruining your manicure..hahaha…Will stay with that!! But that was a good try…who knows,someone out there might improve on that and find the solutions to why it didn’t “quite” make it…still sounds yummy though….

    Jun 19, 2009 | 7:46 am

  25. Maria Clara says:

    Kim: BettyQ’s XO Sauce can be found in MM’s archives entitled “Manok Bisaya/Free Range or Native Chickens + Some Fowl Humour” posted April 24, 2008. You run across it in the comment section. Since it is your DAY today, you will also see BettyQ’s Hainanese Chicken recipe which is out of this world in the same posting! Enjoy and thanks again to MM and BettyQ.

    Jun 19, 2009 | 8:04 am

  26. Nathan says:

    Dude, next time you have a surfeit of crab, try this: Fry thinly-sliced rings of shallots in a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick skillet. Blanch a bundle of Chinese egg misua noodles (there are usually four bundles in a box; get your noodles from a Chinese grocer and ask for the “pang-gisa” type, as against the “pang-sabaw” type) in warm water to get rid of surface starch and dust. Scoop up with pasta claw and put it into the pot with the shallots, then add a ladle of chicken stock or water and braise until all liquid has evaporated and noodles are cooked, tossing occasionally with the pasta claw. Add your chili crab meat, thinly sliced scallions and chili and eat. Good for one hearty eater. Season to taste, but the noodles have a fair amount of salt, so no added seasoning is usually required.

    Jun 19, 2009 | 8:53 am

  27. ariel says:

    I want a picture of the chili crab.

    Jun 19, 2009 | 11:07 am

  28. Scott Kohler says:

    I love that you publish this even though it didn’t really work the way you wanted. These things happen to everyone at home.

    But as my wife would tell me, “Ok, lang yan.”

    Jun 19, 2009 | 4:13 pm

  29. paolo says:

    ted: hi talangka is fat from small crabs found in fishponds and cooked with spices.
    my tita would get a sack of these small crabs and make about 10-12 bottles worth of crab fat.
    we would heat it up with a little calamansi and garlic and eat it as is or mix it with our rice. simple the best! the best also for your cholesterol hehe.
    there are commercial version where they combine the fat with crab meat but you will notice the difference.

    Jun 20, 2009 | 6:28 pm

  30. betty q. says:

    Hey Paolo: you think your tita would take orders? If she is, then I would like to take it back with me in December. It is sauteed already, right?

    I once bought a jar of crab fat hoping to experiment with making Alavar sauce but didn’t get to it for I used it for fried rice!

    MM. have you tried making Javanese rice? Maybe using raw rice like in making Hainanese rice would work. Sauce maybe too thick so I would thin it down a bit and saute the raw rice first in the aromatics so it will absorb the flavour eadding yourt tomato sauce and other stuff and put it in the rice cooker to cook further.

    Jun 22, 2009 | 1:07 am

  31. Good Life says:

    Palayok would probably a better choice of cooking vessel. I agree with Betty Q also, using the rice cooker after you saute all the aromatics with raw rice.It works for me especially if I am trying new rice recipes.

    Jun 23, 2009 | 8:09 am

  32. Jun Castro says:

    What was a bit off-putting for me about this dish is the tomato sauce. Maybe putting in a can of crushed tomatoes or boiling and peeling your own would work better, while having a more natural color to it (less red and more orangey). Actually, if i had a lot of the crab, i would go after something akin to a seafood paella. Olive oil would have been important, and so would clams or mussels.

    Jun 24, 2009 | 6:24 pm

  33. cai says:

    What is a sriracha?

    Jun 25, 2009 | 4:48 pm

  34. betty q. says:

    Cai…Sriracha is hot sauce…or chiligarlic sauce or Sambal Oelek ..not quite pureed like tabasco. You can find it in Asian stores and most grocery chains carry them now.

    If you want to make your own…there are recipes on the web. My favorite if you want to make your own…www. whiteonricecouple.com. Now, the recipe calls for quite a bit of THai chilies…I prefer to cut it in half the number so I won’t have smoke coming out of my ears! I also like it garlicky, so I add more garlic than called for!…also. add a bit of GINGER. If you don’t want to bite the ginger, WHACK a small piece with the back of the knife and “sangkotcha the ginger in the oil with the garlic and shallots. Remove the ginger when the oil smells wonderful!

    Then put them in small bottles and refrigerate. Makes excellent dipping sauce (one of them) for HAINANESE CHICKEN! ….a tbsp. or two of this Sriracha in a little bowl, add a touch of Rice Vinegar and sugar. Taste and adjust seasoning. It should taste like hot, sweet and sour.

    Jun 26, 2009 | 1:47 am

  35. Marketman says:

    sriracha is a thai chilli sauce.

    Jun 26, 2009 | 7:58 pm


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