Celebrity chef James Martin thinks Singapore's chilli crab is one of the top five dishes in the world

Chef James Martin was in Singapore to promote the third season of his BBC Lifestyle programme, James Martin: Home Comforts.
Chef James Martin was in Singapore to promote the third season of his BBC Lifestyle programme, James Martin: Home Comforts. PHOTO: BBC LIFESTYLE

(THE NEW PAPER) - James Martin knows better than to mess with Singapore's chilli crab.

The award-winning British chef and host of TV cooking series James Martin: Home Comforts, which airs every Friday at 7.25pm on BBC Lifestyle (StarHub Ch 432), thinks the local favourite is "one of the top five dishes in the world".

The 44-year-old was in town last week to promote Season 3 of his show, where he shares the secrets and stories behind the simple home-cooked dishes that he loves to eat with his family and friends.

Martin told The New Paper that he once cooked chilli crab for celebrated Italian chef Antonio Carluccio.

"He came over for dinner, and instead of making Italian food, I treated him to my chilli crab because you're not going to cook an Italian Italian food.

"I think you take inspiration on your travels, but when you take your ideas back, you don't really adapt them... I like traditional, so if you're going to do Singapore chilli crab, don't mess with it, do it properly."

The chef and restauranteur is impressed by the diversity of Singapore's local cuisine.

"I look at Singapore as how I look at London the way it was when I was trained 20 years ago. It was on that cusp of being massive," he said.

"Singapore's got everything to be massive. It's not quite there yet, but it will be. You go to London now and it's just crazy - there's no other country in the world up there in terms of food. But I think Singapore is heading in that direction because the global chefs don't really know about Singapore yet.

"You've got some amazing restaurants already. The more you advertise (the local cuisine), the more people like me will see it and then go back and talk about it."

When Martin isn't travelling for his shows or seeking food inspirations, you are likely to find him at home cooking.

"Comfort food is what you crave for when you go back home. That could be a bacon sandwich or baking, which is obviously massive in the UK.

"It's just home-cooked stuff, nothing fancy. You can be fancy if you want to be, but comfort food should be something that's very relaxed and very easy.

"My ethos in cooking is very different to my restaurant. Cooking at home should be enjoyable, so it should be less time in the kitchen and more time chatting - without stuff burning."