Singapore Adventure

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Carnage of Chili Crab
by venitha

If Singapore has a national food, it's Chili Crab, and given my love for spicy food, I've been anxious to try it. So, Jim asked one of the locals that he works with for a recommendation, and last night we dined at Jumbo Seafood.

Like durian, Chili Crab is perhaps best enjoyed with someone in the know who can demonstrate just what in the world you're supposed to do with it. A plate of it in front of you is a pretty overwhelming prospect. As with lobster in the US, you're given various implements to crack the beast open and dig out the meat, but the whole thing is swimming in a thick chili goo (kind of a thick red cross between egg drop soup and hot and sour soup - very tasty), so it's a pretty messy proposition. I'm fairly lucky that I didn't end up shooting pieces of it across the restaurant. Thankfully, they provided lots of napkins and a finger bowl (at least that's how I used it) and, astonishingly, I didn't end up wearing any of it, although the mess I left on the white linen tablecloth was downright embarrassing. I'm sure I provided a great deal of entertainment for the waitstaff, who kept whisking away my plates of remnants and bringing me clean napkins.

It was served with steamed rice, a small bowl of peanuts, and a small bowl of spicy sauce. Overall, it was delicious, but the seeming bloody mess that I left was less than appetizing, and it was so much work to get even a small amount of the crab meat that we were left thinking that perhaps this is how Singaporeans stay so slender. I'll have it again, but only with someone knowledgeable to demonstrate appropriate chili crab technique.