Chilli crab means different things in different Asian cities. Even in places that are close to each other, such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, chilli crabs have distinct differences. The crab itself is usually a thick-shelled mud crab that can come from Indonesia, Singapore or as far away as the cold waters of Australia. They all have different flavours, textures and the ability to handle chilli. Beer may be the traditional drink with anything hot and spicy, but when it comes to a perfectly spiced chilli crab, something with more character is required. The best beverage is something complex and courageous, one that can share the same stage as the attention-grabbing chilli crab.
Yoshinogawa Daiginjo, Niigata, Japan
Although sake is usually served with Japanese food, it also goes well with other cuisines. This sake is a daiginjo, which means the rice used to make it was highly polished. It's quite stunning and complex. When I tasted it, the sake was served in a wine glass so we could smell the notes of paw paw, ripe peach, a little pineapple and lots of white flowers. Its slight sweetness tames the chilli crab. The length and harmony restores peace to the palate after the crab's fiery chaos.
Available for HK$298 at Fine Vintage (tel: 2896 6108) Cheval des Andes 2003, Argentina
This wine is the Argentinian cousin of the legendary Chateau Cheval Blanc, and it's done a great job of elevating the country's status as a producer of fine wines. It's as modern as it gets. This Cheval is a perfect match for Singaporean-style chilli crab because the dark, molasses-like rich soy sauce used in the chilli crab links up with the savoury oak and deep, rich, ripe fruit of the wine. It's a complete and complex experience. Serve the wine slightly chilled to promote its modest acidity, which also goes a long way towards lifting the crab.
Available for HK$790 at Rare & Fine Wines (tel: 2522 9797)
Delamain Cognac Pale & Dry, France
Delamain has always had its fans - they are mature, not fickle, and, like me, probably started drinking a little too early in life.
This wonderful cognac is a perfect match with chilli crab. The cognac should be served cold from the fridge and allowed to warm slowly on the palate with mouthfuls of sweet crab and spicy gravy. The minimum oak and maximum fruity spirits amplify the crab's strongest notes.
Drink this beauty in moderation with sips of water in between mouthfuls, rather than adding water or ice.
Available for HK$1,370 at Rare & Fine Wines