The Spicy Delight of Malaysia: Chilli Crab

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Chilli Crab, a dish deeply rooted in the culinary traditions of Malaysia and Singapore, traces its origins back to the 1950s. The dish, initially known as ‘ketam balado’, was a drier version cooked in a hot and spicy mixture from Minang cuisine of West Sumatra, Indonesia. The modern version of Chilli Crab, a semi-thick, sweet, and savoury tomato-and-chilli-based sauce, was popularized in the 1950s by Cher Yam Tian and her husband Lim Choo Ngee.

Source: delicious

The Malaysian Touch

The first restaurant to offer a Chilli Crab dish in Malaysia was Weng Fung Seafood Restaurant in Langkawi, Kedah. Established as a Hainanese coffee store in the 1920s, it transitioned into a seafood restaurant in the 1950s, adding Chilli Crab to their menu.

Source: vice

Cultural Impact

Chilli Crab has made a significant impact on the global culinary scene. CNN Go listed it as one of the “world’s 50 most delicious foods” at Number 35. Moreover, ‘ketam berlada’, a variant of Chilli Crab, has been recognized as Malaysia’s Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009.

The Dish Today

Today, Chilli Crab is described as “sensuous” and “sweet, yet savoury”, with a “fluffy texture”. It is commonly served with a side of either fried or steamed mantou buns, which are used to scoop up the sauce.


Article curated by Suwaytha Gopal