Chinese Dungeness Crab Recipe

Legendary Chinese Dungeness Crab Recipe

Dungeness Crabs are a popular type of crab which is common on the west coast of North America.

Their scientific name is Metacarcinus magister, but the term “Dungeness” is used because there is one port in the whole of the United States which prides itself on their large and meaty crabs.

Dungeness, Washington considered the Dungeness Crab to be a prized crustacean. In fact, they are so commonly sold and bought that the Dungeness Crab practically supports the most valuable fishery on the west coast!

Because this type of crab is so readily available to most Americans, the Chinese-American community has been adding it to their assortment of flavors to create a wonderful new taste to their crab dishes.

I’ve taken this same inspiration to create a Dungeness Crab recipe with Chinese flavors.

What Makes Dungeness Crabs Different From Other Crabs?

Dungeness Crabs are very large, and can weigh up to 2 pounds. This weight isn’t just from the crab’s exoskeleton, but from the meaty interia too. In fact, Dungeness Crabs yield more meat per size than any other crab in American, because 25 percent of the crab’s weight is pure meat.

In the crab world, 25 percent is a massive amount!

Their sweet, nutty and mild flavor means they are perfect for Chinese dishes. If you want tender and juicy meat, you should focus on the body of the crab. If you want firmer and more flavorful meat, then you should focus on the leg of the crab.

When it comes to buying Dungeness Crab meat, I would suggest purchasing a whole crab instead of the canned version. This is because you lose some of that delicious flavor when the crab isn’t fresh.

But cooking with a whole crab could be difficult for a novice chef, so go with your skill level. You can always try my recipe again when you’re feeling more confident.

Chinese Dungeness Crab Recipe

This recipe will be one to show off to your friends. I would even serve it on a date. If you want to know what type of wine to pair with this tender and luxurious delight, I would suggest pairing it with a bottle of white wine. 

Serving SizeServes 4 – 6
Freeze Time2 Hours
Cooking Time1 Hour


  • Live Dungeness Crabs – 2 – Roughly 2 ½ pounds each
  • Cornstarch
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Fresh Ginger – 8 to 10 pieces – ¼ inch thick and between 1 to 2 inches long
  • Scallions – 2 to 3, plus more for a garnish – Cut into 2 ½ inches long pieces
  • Sherry – 1 Tbsp
  • Oyster Sauce – 1 Tbsp
  • Sesame Oil – 1 ½ Tsp
  • Salt – ½ Tsp
  • White Pepper – ¼ Tsp
  • Unsalted Vegetable or Fish Stock – 1 to 1 ½ cups
  • Cilantro – to Garnish


If you are using whole Dungeness Crabs, start from step 1. If you are using canned Dungeness Crab meat, then start from step 10.

  1. Put the live crabs into the freezer for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Take them out of the freezer, and remove the apron. Then rinse the crab clean.
  3. Remove the top shell, and leave it to one side. (Do Not Use Again Until Step 18)
  4. Remove the mouthpiece and the gills and discard them. (Alternatively, you can keep them to create your own stock.)
  5. Remove the legs and claws, and leave them to one side.
  6. Remove the body meat and cut it into 6 pieces. Leave it to one side.
  7. Bring back the claws and cut at the joints. Using a cleaver or using a crab cracker, crack open the claws. Do this delicately.
  8. Allow the crab to thaw.
  9. Using a kitchen paper towel, blot away as much moisture as you can.
  10. Put all the crab pieces, or just the crab meat if you are using a can, into a large bowl and coat everything with cornstarch.
  11. Use a large and deep pot, and fill the interior with at least 3 inches of oil. Heat the oil until it reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  12. Fry each of the crab pieces until they are medium-rare. This should take around 2 to 3 minutes.
  13. Remove the crab pieces and lay them on kitchen paper to soak up the oil.
  14. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok. Make sure the wok is evenly coated.
  15. Wait until the wok is hot.
  16. Stir fry the ginger and scallion for roughly 30 seconds.
  17. Add the deep-fried crab legs, claws, and body meat.
  18. Bring back the reserved top shell, and scrape off the viscera. Add the viscera to the wok.
  19. Add the oyster sauce, sesame oil, salt, stock, Sherry, and white pepper.
  20. Move to a high heat, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. If your heat isn’t very strong, I suggest you use a cover.
  21. At this point, the dish might become dry. Add more stock if you need it.
  22. Taste the dish, and add more salt or oyster sauce as desired.
  23. Create a sauce by mixing 1 teaspoon of water with ½ teaspoon of cornstarch. You want the consistency to be similar to gravy.
  24. Add this sauce to the wok.
  25. Plate the crab, add the shell on top for decoration and garnish with chopped scallions and fresh cilantro. 

Hints For Cooking Crab!

  • Crab can quickly become overcooked, and when it does, it turns the texture into a rubbery and chewy mess. Keep a separate set of crab to cook at the same time. Test this second set occasionally to see if the texture is in danger of becoming rubbery.
  • Crab shells are an excellent decoration. Practice your placement to create the most appetizing platter.

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