Sunday, 28 October 2012

Chili Crab

Oh has been raining in Vancouver for the past 2 weeks and I am depressed!
I think it's getting to a point where baking won't even save me :(

I lucked out with this weather for shooting this picture today. Normally it's way to dark and grey outside to give good lighting for the photos.

This dish was inspired by a chili crab dish I had in a Szechuan restaurant. That was more like a stew with some potatoes and taro and a lot of Szechuan peppercorn. I didn't wanna saturate this dish with more ingredients than necessary so I just stuck to the basics: ginger, onion, garlic and spices.

There are many ways you can break down a crab. Some chop right through the stomach to split it in half, and others steam it first before taking it apart. I personally like to take the shell off first, wash out all the guts before splitting it so I don't get any of it on the meat.

It's a bit difficult to take the shell off when it's alive. You just need to stick the knife in from the sides and pry it open.

 Rinse out the shell and put it aside. Split the rest of the crab into 6 pieces.


1 large onion (I used spring onions cause I ran out of regular onion)
Dried chili (to taste)
1 large piece of ginger (1/4 cup)
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup hot pepper paste
2 tbsp hot pepper and bean paste (optional)

If you are using fresh chilis, you can skip this step. But because mine was dried, I soaked it in 1/4 cup of hot water first. Then combine with the ginger, onion, and garlic in a blender and purée it into a paste.

Sauté the paste in 2 tbsps of oil until fragrant and some of the water has evaporated. 

Add the rest of the ingredients (more or less based on taste) and stir to combine.

 At this point I added a cup of water to the mixture to thin it out because the crab needs a little time to cook and I need that extra water in there to steam the crab.

Just a few pictures of the brands I used. The Korean hot pepper paste is really mild.

This is a Szechuan style hot pepper paste. It has bean paste inside and large pepper chunks. It's very salty and slightly tangy. 

Toss the crab around in the mixture to coat.

Set the shells on top and let it steam. I wouldn't want all the juices to go into the sauce. 

And after 20 minutes you are done!

I'm really sorry my measurements are so vague and most often people want exact amounts of what I put in. But I'm honestly a huge believer in tasting as you go. My mom never tastes when she cooks so the same dish would turn out good one week and horrible the next. Without tasting the food you never know what else needs to be in there. Sometimes I add a little sugar if it's too tangy. So try, and let me know what works for you!


  1. yum! i'm looking for crab recipes for a dish to make for thanksgiving dinner and this sounds delish! only one problem, i've never split a crab before?



    thank you.

    1. I say just go for it! it might be intimidating at first but you'll get used to holding the crab and getting it open. Stick the knife between the shell and the body from one side and lift it a little, then try again with the other side. It will eventually come off :)

      If all fails, you can steam it first and finish it in the sauce