A national treasure of Singapore!

2 large live Dungeness crabs, each about 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 pounds
10-12 fresh red chiles, stemmed, seeded and chopped or 6 dried Asian chiles (3 inches long), stemmed, seeded, chopped and soaked in warm water to cover for 10 minutes, drained
2 tablespoons minced garlic, or to taste
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon finely grated gingerroot
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus additional

For the sauce:
1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce, such as Nam Pla
1/3 cup Thai sweet chile sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch combined with 2 tablespoons water
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons sliced scallion for garnish
Slices of white bread as an accompaniment, if desired

In a casserole or large pot of boiling salted water, add the crabs and cook them for about 1 minute, or until no longer moving. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.

To clean the crabs pull off top shells; pull and twist off each apron; remove gills. With sharp knife cut crabs into quarters, rinse and drain.

In mortar and pestle or small food processor pound or process chiles, garlic, shallots and ginger with a little oil if necessary.

Combine all sauce ingredients.

Heat a wok over moderately high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil and heat until hot. Add chili and garlic paste and stir-fry 1 minute. Add crabs and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes or until shells turn red. Add sauce ingredients, bring to boil and simmer, covered, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer crabs to serving dish.

Bring sauce in wok to a boil. Stir cornstarch mixture and add to wok. Simmer until thickened. Gradually add eggs in a stream, whisking, and cook for 1 minute. Pour sauce over crabs and garnish with scallion.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

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