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.
If you enjoy eating stir-fried crabs but have never prepared it yourself, I challenge you to make this dish.
I have simplified the steps as much as possible because even I don’t like to spend too much time in the kitchen with my hungry kids screaming and chasing each other around the house.
Like most 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 them for 15 min);
- Thicken the sauce with cornstarch and soy sauce mixture and you’re done!
Be sure to serve this dish over rice, noodles, or something like a mantou bun to soak up all the saucy goodness. Don’t let the amazing sauce go to waste!
I don’t have a wok so I use a large shallow non-stick pan with a lid. (But I have been eyeing this 10-piece set from Joyce Chen for a while now because it includes the wok, lid, frying rack and more!)
My mom made us this Crab stir-fry with ginger and scallions during her recent visit from New York. It only takes about 20-25 minutes (5 minutes of which was spent cleaning the crabs). We bought large local blue crabs which were 32 dhs/kg ($4/lb) at a supermarket.
On cleaning the crabs: I like to remove the gills and the triangular thingy at the bottom of the crabs but if those parts it doesn’t bother you, just rinse the crabs and throw it into the pan as-is. If you are squeamish about cleaning crabs or have never done it before, ask your fishmonger/seafood purveyor to do it for you.
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.
When I picked up my son from school that day after dropping my mom at the airport, he immediately said to me, “PoPo’s gone now. You have to start cooking again, mom.” Gee, thanks son.
Please give this recipe a try and remember the 5 basic stir-fry steps for this recipe: 1) oil, 2) aromatics, 3) steaming liquid, 4) crabs, 5) thickener. I make a black-bean version in much the same way (that’s a post for another day).
You can do this!
Stir-Fried Crabs with Ginger and Scallions
- 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)
Thickening Mixture / (the Ginger and Scotch Magic Ratio)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 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. Do this step before you start prepping the crabs.
Prepare crabs by cleaning them with a scrub brush under running water. Remove the upper shell. Remove gills. Cut the body 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 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Add alcohol (optional) and water, then add the crabs (not the upper shells just 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.
-We actually used 2 different preparations of ginger (minced AND large thin slices) because my mom likes to eat the ginger at the end of cooking with the crab and I don't so the larger slices I can easily pick out of my dish
-Remember that corn starch is only an effective thickener at boiling temperatures.