Chilli crab: The woman behind Singapore's beloved dish

Feb 22, 2023 | 🚀 Fathership AI

Cher Yam Tian, the creator of the world-renowned dish chilli crab, has died in Singapore at the age of 90. The dish, which consists of stir-fried crab in a thick, sweet and savoury sauce, is a cultural icon and one of Singapore's most famous exports. Ms Cher's creation started as an accidental discovery more than 70 years ago when her husband, a policeman who enjoyed fishing and catching mud crabs, suggested she try something different to steaming the crabs. The dish became such a hit that she started selling it from a push cart, before progressing to a little shack and then opening the eatery, Palm Beach Seafood, with her husband in 1963.

Despite being seven decades since its creation, chilli crab remains one of Singapore's most iconic dishes, along with chicken rice. Dr Leslie Tay, who runs the popular Singaporean food blog ieatishootipost, believes that Ms Cher's invention was an audacious dish that piqued people's curiosity and has endured as a beloved meal ever since. Despite its hefty cost, a dish of chilli crab in Singapore usually starts at around S$80, the dish has taken the country to the world map, and become a cultural icon. Ms Cher's contribution to Singaporean culture is apparent with her innovation, which also included other famous dishes like tao you prawns and sotong you tiao, still being served at Roland Restaurant run by her sons Roland Lim and Richard Lim.

Chilli crab has also been at the centre of a rivalry between Singapore and Malaysia, with Malaysia's former tourism minister Ng Yen Yen claiming that the dish was one of several Malaysian dishes that had been wrongly credited to other countries. However, Dr Tay dismissed the claims as "ludicrous assertions," stating that the Singaporean version of the dish is unique and that Cher was the one who started it. The dish remains a popular cultural icon and will likely continue to be enjoyed for many years to come.

Source: BBC

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