Chinese Crabs Recipe

Zen Chinese Crabs Recipe

Chinese cooking has always been a matter of taking simple ingredients and making them taste satisfying in a complex, layered way, usually delivering a sense of health beyond simply nourishment.

Chinese crab is no exception. There are of course plenty of different Chinese crab recipes, but one that speaks to the fundamentals of Chinese cuisine – simplicity, taste, deep flavor, and the sensation that when you eat it you do more than take on nourishment, is:

Crab with Scallions and Ginger

You’re not going to be doing too much that’s complicated with this recipe, so take a breath. The point is to let the sweet crabmeat play with the heat of the ginger, and the sharp zing of the scallions. If you keep that trio in mind, you won’t go far wrong, in crab sauce or in life:

Sweet, Heat, Zing.

Got it? Good.

Before we get cooking, check your pantry for any ingredients you do not have, and add them to the list which currently should read:

1 cooked crab per person, or the equivalent in crab meat.

Picking The Crab

What kind of crab are you using for this recipe? Honestly, go imagination-wild. Personally, Dungeness crab is a favorite for sweetness and – let’s not be coy here – meat-yield, but that’s about as authentic as a fortune cookie.

You can use any kind of whole crab you like, from blue swimmer to soft shell, or by all means, go for prepared, shelled crab meat. When it comes to crab, you very much do you. You’re looking for between 1.5-2 pounds of crab per person.

The recipe’s going to assume you’re a little lonely on prom night, and you have a solitary 2-pound crab all to yourself. For quantities of other ingredients, simply multiply by the number of crabs in your pot.


Check your pantry now. For the Crab with Scallions and Ginger, you’ll need:

  • 1 crab, about 1.5-2 pounds. If you want an easier life during the prep stage, get your fishmonger or supermarket fish counter supremo to either give you unshelled crab meat or remove the crab meat from the shell for you there.
    • You don’t have to do that, but unless you know your crab breakdown techniques by heart, it’ll save you time and pre-cooking, not to mention wear and tear on your craw toolkit.
  • 2 inches of ginger (peeled and cut into 10-12 pieces – or more if you like, but not too small)
  • 3 scallions, cut into 2-inch length
  • 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, for frying
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • Enough oil for deep frying, besides the tablespoon

For the accompanying sauce, you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
  • 2 dashes of white pepper (can use more if you like, but be careful with it)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of water
  • 3/4 teaspoon of cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon of fish sauce (available from any Chinese deli, if not from your local supermarket)


This is not a super-hard recipe, and it really shouldn’t take you long to be eating delicious crab.

Roughly 15 minutes of prep time, 15 minutes of cooking. Half an hour to hot, sweet, zingy crab? And at much less than the price of the same dish in a restaurant? Where’s the bad?


  1. Get all your crab meat together. We’re going to assume you did the smart thing and went unshelled. If you didn’t… have some fun cracking your way into your shell-on cooked crab. We’ll talk among ourselves till you’re ready to go.
  2. While the crab purists crack shells and accidentally twang claw-meat across their kitchen like frogs of the sea, it’s time to make up the sauce.

There’s literally nothing to this except adding everything into a bowl or jug, one ingredient at a time, and then stirring until the technically ‘dry’ ingredients, like the sugar and white pepper are dissolved into the liquid. Set the sauce aside – its time will come.

  1. Pat the crab meat dry – this is important, as excess moisture is going to hamper the next stage.
  2. Put your cornflour into a bowl. Dip and coat the crab meat pieces, then put them into a separate bowl.
  3. Grab your wok – it’s crabbin’ time.
  4. Add your deep-frying oil to the wok – just enough to successfully deep fry. Heat up the wok until your oil is hot. How do you know it’s hot enough? When you gently drop a piece of crab meat in, it should froth in a fury of deep-frying goodness, that’s how.
  5. Gently drop your crab meat into the wok, and deep fry, turning quickly.
  6. When the crab meat turns red, it’s you in Miami on the day you forgot sunscreen. Fish it out with a slotted spoon and leave it to drain – ideally on some kitchen paper, to absorb excess oil.
  7. Drain the oil out of the wok. Do this safely, because wow, scalding hot oil – not fun to leave hanging around.
  8. Add the tablespoon of oil to a now mostly oil-empty wok. No, really, this is not a conspiracy by Big Vegetable Oil, it’s fresh oil, rather than the deep-frying oil.
  9. Add the ginger to your oil and stir fry till you’re getting those nose-stripping ginger vibes.
  10. Add your deep-fried crab, and stir it around a few times, to pick up the ginger kick.
  11. Add your sauce, and stir some more – you’ll notice the intensity of the heat died down. Because liquids, that’s why.
  12. Add your scallions – you’re not looking to really cook these little flavor bombs through. You still want some crunch and some zing, remember? That’s what they’re doing in this recipe.
  13. Toss the crab in the sauce, but do it quickly – you want the crab meat coated, but you don’t want it saturated through the deep-fried coating.

Serve up, and what you have there is crab with some fundamental Chinese flavors – the oyster sauce and fish sauce in the combination crab sauce will add a depth of oceanic richness, and the crab will be crispy, succulent, and sweet, with that throat-warming ginger hit and the crunch and zing of the scallions to cut through the richness.

Perfect for a cold night, perfect for a hungry night. Practically perfect for any night you like. Chinese Crab with Ginger and Scallions. It’s a must-have in your recipe book.

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