Black Pepper Crabs


Anyone knows where to buy good fresh mud crabs?

I have tried the wet markets at Bedok (several) and Chinatown and also the various supermarkets but only found sub-standard ones.

If you know of any good place, please share with me cos I would like to cook Black Pepper Crabs for my daughters as they love the way I cook it.

I would like to share my recipe with you.



2 pcs big mud crabs about one and half to two kg
3 tablespoonful black pepper corn, coarsely ground
half tablespoon white pepper corn, coarsely ground
5pcs shallots  chopped fine
2 pcs garlic chopped fine
2 slices ginger, ground
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoon canola/sunflower oil


Kill crabs.  Separate shell from body and clean crabs and shell. (I use the hard bristle toothbrush to clean the crabs cos you can reach all the small angles – erhm not used toothbrush heee!).Cut crabs into quarters and steam until half cooked (about 5 mins on high heat).
Heat wok and put in oil.  When oil is heated up, add chopped onions and garlic and ground ginger and fry till fragrant.
Lower heat and add ground black and white pepper and fry till fragrant (about one to two minutes).  Make sure not to burn pepper.
Add oyster sauce and  butter and stir till butter is melted and fragrant (careful cos butter burns easily) and then add steamed crab.  Stir gently so that the pepper sauce
coats the crab without breaking it up.  Add a little water and cover and cook on medium heat till crab is done.  This usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes.  Crab is done when it turns to an even orange in colour. Add salt to taste but usually not necessary as crab itself is a little salty and the oyster sauce too.


The seasoning and cooking times are estimates cos it depends on the size of the crabs and seasoning is usually to taste. Also, this recipe uses less oil by steaming the crab first.  Usually at restaurants, they deep fry the crabs instead of steaming them.




38 thoughts on “Black Pepper Crabs

  1. Karen

    I nearly choke, laughing and coughing almost the same time. No problem lah but first must find good crabs then I give the date and time ok?


  2. ah carly jie ,

    aiyo , such a simple task …why u never think of yr xiao di har??? i got lobong lah…but u must do like wat my yi kia karen kong 1 hor….aa kam bo har ?? only black pepper crab ??? wat abt chilly crab ,,go with mar dong in mandarin

    dip in de chilly sauce ..wah lua sedap man !!!now ,u make me putt tor yeow yeow liao lah ( stomach hungry liao alh )
    apa machamp nei !!!
    sam huat huat huat

  3. ah carly jie ,

    wow heng now come 2 think of it hor…dolly dun really like crab lei…she hor , like steamed angel fish ,curry fish head.sar poh fish head..aa sai bo har ??

    sam huat huat huat…hahahahha..btw ..also my favorite lei….

  4. Carly

    Very little black pepper , very little chilli …cos I cant take spicy food.. Wow !!!! – so many Special requests from karen & Sam even b4 u buy the crab.. thanks in advance .. or else u omit my name in yr calling list.


  5. Carly Carly

    Just reading your recipe makes me drool. You are a crual women.

    If I go to your house with the best crab I can find, would you cook for me?

    What are good mud crabs anyway? Are they the fat ones loaded with cholesterol and about to get heart attack or just the ones who can only talk nonsense?

  6. Hi Caroline,

    Here’s how you should kill the crabs. Put the crab on a chopping block, look for a parang, and just quarter it. Clean tasty and fast. Nobody will know, not even your daughter.

    Terence Seah

  7. Hi Carly
    The best way to cook crabs without inflicting cruelty to the creatures is by the following time tested method:
    1) Store the crabs in a freezer for one hour until they are in a dreamland
    2) Immerse the crabs in boiling water
    3) Then use a cleaver to chop the crabs into suitable sizes

    In this way you can enjoy the pepper crabs without feeling any guilt

  8. Sam Xiao Di @ #3 & 4

    OK on ah. You tell me where to get the good crabs and I cook pepper and chilli one also can. Black peper crabs, you can lick your fingers after that. For chilli crab, you dip mantou into the gravy YUM!

    For your Dolly, sim mi fish also can lah. Assam, curry, steam, fried, dau jeo, stuffed chilli poon eh sai lah.

    Karen @ no 5

    aiyo like dat hor, one crab cut into two, half cook little pepper and the other half little chilli eh sai boh?

    Dear Tian Soo @ #6

    Certainly. If you get good crabs, no problem to cook for you in any style. Good ones means after cooking, the flesh is succulent and juicy. I bought many times guaranteed by the seller but then you get the “nup nup” flesh. No matter how nice the gravy also no use right. The female ones with lots of roe will give you the heart attack. But careful huh, those with big pincers will cubit (pinch) you.

    Terence @ #7

    My style of killing crab is swift and no pain (to me lah and I think the crabs will appreciate my method). I use the chopper and cut the crab into two without cutting through the shell cos you need the shell whole to cook in case there is roe in it. Actually almost like your style only thing is yours is quartered.

    Robert @ # 8

    Thanks. I have done that before but I think the crabs die a slow cold death. Poor things. Me, I go “hy..ik” and chop. Clean and swift.

    Thanks for all your contributions. I laughed heartily reading them.


  9. Hi Carly

    Try Teka market, there are a few stall selling mud crab.
    I will try out your recipe cause normally I fried the crab first:-)

    Happy shopping and cooking … btw way your place date n time???

    Just kidding:-)))

    Lai Fong

  10. Carly, there is a shop at Serangoon Drive Central that has a lot of crabs – big Sri Lankan ones. The shop is next to the Serangoon Central Post Office.

  11. Terence#7, Robert Ong #8

    I am just wondering. If I am a crab, is it better to be chopped to pieces and die quickly or being frozen slowly in a freezer and if I am not frozen to death than I get to die in boiling water.

    But I am not a crab, so I ask which way would make the dish tastier?

    My friends in hell are waiting for me.

  12. Hi Carly

    Re Vincent@12: Yes, the crab shop at Block 253 Serangoon Central was many years ago at Serangoon Gardens. You can get a variety of crabs there at different prices.

    I also buy from them a small bottle of ready-made sambal belachan which is very “shiok” to eat with crab or anything.

    My ambition is to cook a Vietnamese tamarind-based crab which I had in Ho Chi Min some years back.

    Now how do I get about killing them crabs?

  13. Dear Lai Fong @#10

    Yes, try this recipe and give me your frank opinion. I like my crab flesh moist thats why i dont like to deep fry it. Has to be after Prom Nite πŸ™‚

    Dear Gingko @#11

    Sorry πŸ™ But I drool at other stuff πŸ˜‰

    Dear Vince Wong @#12

    Thanks for the info. Will try to track the vendor down.

    Hahaha Tian Soo. Crabs, you can have it anyway but loose. Get it. I like mine celop in steamed and celop in seafood chilli sauce as mentioned by Kenneth @#14if I am on a diet. Otherwise, its black pepper for me πŸ™‚

    Dear Kenneth @#14

    The tamarind crab sounds delicious. Just use the chopper and cut it into two!


  14. #9 Carly and #13 Tian Soo
    When living things are frozen slowly, they are not dead but in a state of inanimation. They have no sensations such as pain. So when are immersed in boiling water, they do not suffer at all.
    I am sure you have some knowledge on how hospitals and universities handle the sperms in the sperm bank.

  15. Kenneth#14,
    I think it should be Block 267 or 261 Serangoon Central.
    My sis bought the crabs from there many times already but have to go early……… 6am.
    p/s: Block 253 is MSCP.

    Anyway……when you cooking these crabs? Date? Time? Place? You EO for this! hahahaha! Surely full-house!

  16. Dear Robert @#16

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I took Physics and Chemistry so I dont know anything about Biology.
    Another problem with freezing is my freezer compartment is too small even for 2 pcs of large crabs because its always stuffed heeee! Bad supermarket shopping habits.

    Also, my children were from normal conception and natural birth so I dont know anything about the sperm bank.

    Dear Ivan @#17

    Thanks for letting me know. Hahaha EO for this. Cannot lah. Now I live in an HDB 3 roomer so can only take in 8 and all seats taken already πŸ™ Also, it has to be after the Prom Nite. Very busy in office and with Prom Nite.


  17. Hi Ivan

    Yes, you’re right… it’s blk 261 or is it 263?

    I was just there this morning for marketing and didn’t pay attention to the block number. Anyway, it’s the same row as the Post Office, you can’t miss it.

    While on this subject of eating, there’s a great roast meat seller just opposite; you can get a whole duck for $16.80! Buy from the old lasy who mans the stall. Next door, at the pork seller’s, they have a roast pig knuckle so you can have Oktoberfest!

    I usually buy my veg from the crowded stall run by a guy whom we call “Computer Ah Tee”. What you do to to pick all your veg, fish, etc. and line up to pay. Ah Tee will calculate at lightning speed your purchases, toss them to his wife behind him, who then yells out to the buyer and has the change ready before you can get around to her side. You have to see this to believe it!

  18. Hi Caroline,

    I want to join the other SHCians who are interested in your black pepper crab and you want to know where you can buy the best one.
    I have not heard of anywhere that you can buy the best crabs but I was told that certain days of the month are good if you are looking for meaty crabs. They mentioned 1st or 15th of the Lunar month when it is full moon. Correct me if I’ve got this info wrong.Please check with your regular fish monger. My little bit of “unsure” contribution.

    Try the nyonya style chillie crab too. Recipes available on the internet.

    Happy cooking.Hurry, you have a happy crowd waiting for the pepper crab.

    Geok Suan.

  19. Hi Geok Suan

    Seems like the best fresh mud crabs are to be found either in Serangoon Block 261 or 267 as recommended by Ivan and confirmed by Kenneth Tan. Thanks guys!

    Hahaha! I dont look at calendars to eat crabs. I do it when the craving comes πŸ™‚ But of course if the timing is right, all the better. My regular fish monger does not stock up crabs cos he too does not know how to choose the best crabs. Thanks for your contribution. Nyonya food usually uses coconut milk. Hmm wonder what it tastes like.


  20. Hi Caroline,

    Thank you for passing on the address where I can find the best crabs for cooking.

    The nyonya chillie crab which I had tasted did not have coconut milk in it instead, taucheow was added.

    I saw only 1 recipe out of many on the internet which used Miso, a form of taucheow, in addition to the usual spices for cooking the chillie crab.

    Happy cooking.

    Geok Suan.

  21. Hi Geok Suan

    My pleasure.

    Yes, I forgot Nyonya food also uses lots tau cheo.
    Japanese use miso a lot in their cooking. Love miso soup.

    Thanks for sharing the info.


  22. Hi Carly,

    To kill a male crab . Overturn the crab with tongs and look for the V sign. At the tip of the V, place a wooden chopstick vertically above it. Heard from someone tat is the “heart” of the crab.

    With 1 full force stamped it down with a clean hammer, the crab is immobilized and “dead” . wait for a short while to rnsutr the the pincers will not clamp your delicate fingers. But made doubly sure b4 u tear out the shell and remove its gills or kena bitten back.

    Enjoy crabbing. When cooked , pls. call me. I can smell your crab.

    Best Mud crab u need to get contact with the Indonesian fisherman who bring them in. Anyone ada lobang ?

  23. I know nothing abt the female crab as the female has a U shape pattern and it is hard to find their hearts . For those who loves the orangish “ko” or fats or eggs search for the female crabs. V. high in cholesterol.

    It is OK eat them once in a while.

    Now, I can buy and eat the fresh oysters and the bi valves steamed with garlic slices. Yummy! . The bi valves r triangular in shape and tastes v, much than scallops. Available at Sheng Siong supermarkets and they are sold in aquariums with fresh oxygenated water.

    Eating is believing. πŸ™‚ esp. the bi valves NOT si ham ( cockles ) or chit chit.

  24. Hi Carly,

    1) Thanks for sharing us your wonderful recipe of cooking black pepper crab. Your 1/2 cook by steaming the crabs will also ensure that your crabs will not be overcooked compared with the deep fried variety available at sea food restaurants.

    I believe the meat will be more tender and juicy in this manner.
    No wonder your daughters crave for it. πŸ™‚

    2) Thanks for reviving the cooking food and pot luck category after a long lapse.

  25. Hi Steven @#s 26, 27, 28 & 29

    Sorry for not writing. Have been O last week and the weekend πŸ™ This week is a busy week. Taking a five minutes break to write this.

    Hahaha sorry if my post made you salivate…slurp.. slurp!
    My mum used to do it your way @ #27.

    I dont eat the “ko” or roe cos its bad for the heart. I was so busy I did not have time to go to the Serangoon shop to check out the crab. My youngest daughter has returned to Sydney cos uni starts today so will prob wait for her next summer vacation before i can cook for her.

    Yes, Steven, try out the steam and fry method. I am sure you will enjoy especially since you are health conscious.



  26. Carly

    Last night I dreamt that you and I were looking for crabs in Siam Reap. The fishmonger said there are no crabs in SR because it is far from the sea.
    Than Lily Ho appear with 2 white rabbits and we decide to have Pepper Rabbits. I climb the pepper tree but you 2 complain that they were not black in colour.
    Just then, Ah Huat comes along with a lottery ticket in one hand and a newspaper in another. He thinks he strike first price but he cannot read Cambodian sanskrit. So he curst in Hokkian but still cannot read.
    Then Dolly walk towards us with hands on her hips. I ask Ah Huat if he can run faster than me.

    I think I was hallucinating about your Pepper Crab.

  27. Tian Soo

    OMG! You must want the black pepper crab so much πŸ™‚

    Since SR got no crab, then after you come back from SR,we go crab hunting and I will cook the black pepper crab for you. Otherwise, I will go to serangoon or tekka as recommended and buy and if I find good ones, I will shout for you and then you come. Dont need to climb the pepper plant cos I have them at home.

    If Ah Huat strike first prize, then we ask him to pay for the fresh crab.

    So for now, just enjoy your trip and dream of black pepper crabs.

    p.s. Still in the office. The clients dont want to go off yet and I am dead beat πŸ™


  28. Wow!!Wow!!
    If Carly cook, I will pay for the crabs and TS, you can help yourself to the pepper crabs …….. provided I get invited too……
    Have no fear ….. there will be crabs in SR for sure …..
    The Mekong river also runs through SR ………. kekekekeke.
    Now, we need to bring the trapsfor crabs too, wow! already have to bring traps for legged-animals, now! need to bring crab traps ….. 20kgs chk-in luggage not enough liao!

  29. Silor silor, Ivan, 20kg sim like not 2 enuf 4 me either leh.. jialat hor..

    Mi very kiasu, everything oso bring there cos mai buy frm there lor.. must use US$ leh..

    Carly, not crazy ovr crabs, but will still go 4 it.. listen 2 craps n gossip lor.. hehehehe… Dolly

  30. Haha Ivan, if you pay, how can dont invite you also?

    I think cheaper to buy crabs here then to lug them back from SR. But if you insist to bring the crabs back, its ok but they must be alive hor.

    If crabs die a natural death, then they cannot be eaten already as they are deemed poisonous. Thats what my mum told me. It has to be alive and killed and not die, then its safe to eat. Anyone can verify this?

    Halor Dolly. Its not just crabs but other loads of crap talk that makes the gathering more interesting and exciting.

    Yi Lu Ping An πŸ™‚


  31. Hi Carly
    I hope that I am not too intrusive to put my opinion
    in the post about the cooking of the crab. Your are concerned about eating dead crab even it is cooked. You mum is right in her info.
    You know crabs live in a most filty and unhygienic habitat where they come into contact with garbage and the foods they eat are mostly carcasses. You can well imagine the environment are teeming with bateria. So when a crab is dead, its carcass will be completely swarmed and devoured by these microscopic creatures to give a very potent contail. This concoction can be very poisonous indeed even it is cooked. I hope I answer your query.
    In the meantime go ahead and enjoy your crabs provided they
    are properly prepared. Cheers


  32. Hi Robert

    No, dont think that way. Whatever information provided is very much appreciated.

    Thanks for your affirmation about what I have believed all along. No wonder my mum always tell me whilst choosing crabs, to prod it on the shells with the thongs to see if there is any reaction.

    I am not really crab crazy – just enjoy cooking it. But if eating in a big group, then I will be swayed to join in.


  33. HiCarly!

    I jux saw the blog about eating crabs. R u done wif them since it’s now April fool’s day is over?

    Please e-mail me if U r gg to have a party on crabs!

    I love chilli crabs or pepper crabs! I don’t sharing the cost wif others!

    Tku in advance! Ha..ha..

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