Wok-tossed fragrant mud crab

Wok-tossed fragrant mud crab

Kam heong crab

Street Food Asia
4–6 As part o f a shared me al
Alan Benson

Another dish I love at Wong Ah Wah on Jalan Alor is their fragrant mud crab and you must order this as well as the wings when you visit. Whenever I dine somewhere new I always look around to see what everyone else is eating before I order and at this place, when I first tried it, just about every single customer had a plate of mud crab and chicken wings in front of them. Since then I’ve never ordered anything else. Their crab is a Malay take on Singapore chilli crab, with lots of intense flavours coming from curry powder, curry leaves and black pepper. The wok chefs are constantly cooking like crazy to keep up with orders, sending flames, smoke and bits of pre-cut crabs flying. The atmosphere is exciting and vibrant, with tons of kitchen noise and always so many people waiting to get a table. I notice they steam their crabs before wok-tossing them but I prefer to deep-fry mine – it’s not only faster but I reckon you get a much better texture in the crab this way.


Quantity Ingredient
2 litres vegetable oil, for deep-frying
2 x 500g mud crabs, cleaned, claws removed and bodies cut into quarters
2 tablespoons dried shrimp (see glossary), soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and drained
3 red asian shallots, diced
5 garlic cloves, diced
4-6 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
20 fresh curry leaves
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
4 coriander sprigs, to garnish


  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large wok or saucepan to 190°C, or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 10 seconds.
  2. Slide the crab claws into the wok and cook for 30 seconds, then carefully add the remaining crab pieces to the oil and deep-fry for 3–4 minutes, stirring gently as you go, until they turn deep orange in colour (depending on the size of your wok, you may need to do this in batches). Drain on paper towels.
  3. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the deep-frying oil to a separate wok over a high heat, then add the rehydrated shrimps and stir-fry for 1 minute. Now add the shallots, garlic, red chillies, curry leaves and curry powder and stir-fry for a further minute, or until fragrant. Add the black pepper, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar and mix together well, then return the crab pieces to the wok and toss several times to ensure they are well coated in the sauce.
  4. Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with the coriander and serve.
South-East Asian
Street Food
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