When I was very young we ate a lot of crabs. Then one summer night we pulled our boat over to a water side marina in Sag Harbor, NY for dinner. My father ordered crabs, enjoyed them to the fullest and we went on our merry way to the cove we had planned to moor for the night. Daddy became quickly ill and we got stuck in what I was sure was a hurricane. The Perfect Storm for a 5 year old. In the wee hours of the morning we found the sandy stretch of beach we were looking for and my father swore off crabs for life.
Still I am a sucker for the soft, sweet succulent meat of a crab. Cans of it are a staple in my pantry. It was not until I made my way to China, where the markets are full of them, that I actually cooked one myself. Like a lobster, once you get over the torturous end you are inflicting on the crustacean, the sweet rewards are worth the work.
Through a lot of miming and body language, I was able to get this simple recipe from the lady who sold this crazy American a mish mash of different crabs.
- 5 - 10 cups of water, depending on the number of crab, enough so that they arent going to drown.
- 1 tbsp of sea salt
Preferably in a wok, bring water to a rapid boil. Grasp the live crab by the back legs and stroke the top of its head until it falls asleep and then slowly drop it into the shallow boiling water. Bring the water back to the boil and only then start timing.
Large crabs (2lb +) 15 - 20 minutes
Small crabs 8 - 10 minutes
Once the water has started to boil again, reduce the heat and simmer, covered for the required time. The crab's shell should turn a bright orange when done. When the crabs are done, immerse them for a few seconds in cold water so that cooking stops and they do not overcook.
If you enjoy a good crab:
Photo Credit: Julie Cecchini