A popular Chinese stir fry recipe that is actually quite simple to make at home in less than 30 minutes. Always get the freshest crabs available and prepare them as soon as possible.
I pulled my car into the departure curb of Dubai’s Terminal 3. It was time to say goodbye to my mom. She got out of the passenger seat and headed straight to her granddaughter, Li’L Ginger, in the back seat to say her last farewell and indulge her in little kisses and a hug. The kids call my mom “PoPo”.
“Bub-bye PoPo,” Li’L Ginger says as my mom gives her one more last hug.
It’s been amazing having my mom here for the last four weeks (even with the unsolicited parenting advice). I may have cooked only once in the last month. She’s spoiled us with her Chinese and Vietnamese home cooking. Dishes only she can make and we just salivate over.
She has entertained the kids while I spent time at the gym or worked on this blog. She brought and bribed the kids with so much chocolate and candy that I think they’ve all gained a few pounds. She helped bathe and settle Li’L Ginger at night which was such a huge blessing as Li’L Ginger always cries for me to sleep next to her and will wail for what seems like hours if I don’t oblige.
But with my mom, she puts her head on the pillow, hugs her stuffed animals, and says “Night night PoPo” and closes her eyes. Grandma Magic.
On the drive back from the airport, the last words my mom said to me were, “You’re out of bread, OJ, milk. And rice. Go to the store.” Moms. Gotta love ’em.
When I picked up my son from school, he immediately said to me, “PoPo’s gone now. You have to start cooking again, mom.” Gee, thanks son.
That night, feeling lost in my own kitchen with no bread, OJ, milk, nor rice, I ordered pizza for myself and the kids while we reminisced about all the yummy (their word not mine) food my mom had made us.
My mom made us this Crab stir-fry with ginger and scallions while she was here. It only takes about 20-25 minutes (5 minutes of which is the un-fun part of cleaning the crabs). We bought large blue crabs which were 32 dhs/kg ($4/lb) at a local supermarket.
This is one of the simplest stir-fry recipes. (Wait, aren’t all stir fry recipes simple?) We make a garlic-black-bean-crab version pretty much the same way.
Like almost all stir-fries, the basic steps to this dish are generally the same:
- Heat oil;
- Toss in aromatics (ginger, garlic and scallion whites);
- Pour in some steaming liquid (can be just water or broth, we used cognac and water) which will become part of the sauce later;
- Add crabs and steam for 10-15 minutes depending on size of the crab (our crabs were quite large so we steamed 15 min);
- Thicken the sauce with cornstarch and soy mixture and you’re done!
And one last thing: be sure to serve this dish with rice, noodles, or something like a mantou bun to soak up all the saucy goodness. Don’t let that go to waste!
Here is a more detailed and printable recipe below:
- 4 large blue crabs
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Thumb-sized piece of ginger (minced or julienned)
- 2 bunches of scallions, cut into 2" slices BUT reserve whites and greens separately
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons alcohol: Shaoshing wine/vodka/whisky/cognac (optional)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ cup cold water
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- Juice from ½ lemon or 2 teaspoons vinegar (distilled, cider, red wine, etc)
- If you will be serving your crabs with rice or noodles, prepare them as per the packaging instructions.
- Prepare crabs by cleaning them with a scrub brush under running water. Remove the upper shell. Remove gills. Cut in half if desired. We like to smash the claws with the back of a knife or you can use a crab cracker at the end of cooking.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wok or large saute pan that has a lid and can fit the crabs. Add ginger, garlic and scallion WHITES and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Sprinkle salt.
- Add alcohol (optional) and water, then add the crabs (not the shells yet) and stir around the sauce. Now place the crab shells on top.
- Cover, lower heat to simmer and steam 10-15 min depending on size of the crab. Note: if the liquid in the pan has evaporated, add another ¼ cup of water and make sure it is simmering.
- Remove crabs to a separate dish to make it easier to thicken the sauce. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add thickening mixture (soy sauce, sugar, water, corn starch) to the wok/pan and stir until sauce has thickened.
- Add scallions GREENS and lemon juice. Slide the crabs back into the pan and mix gently.
- Serve with rice or noodles.
-Remember that corn starch is only an effective thickener at boiling temperatures.