November 15, 2011

Chinese Steamed Crab 清蒸花蟹

chinese, crab, flower crab, recipe, seafood, steamed

Actually in a way there is nothing particularly Chinese about this Chinese Steamed Crab 清蒸花蟹.  It's a simple straightforward preparation that celebrates fresh seafood for its sea sweetness and tender succulence.  

Or maybe I should take that back.  Thinking about it, this dish is actually very representative of the manifestos of Cantonese cookery.  Freshness first, then simple yet subtle preparation to bring out the best of the natural taste of the fresh food. Anyways this is one of the many styles in which the Chinese eat crab which they love in general with a passion.

One of my earliest food memories is of having my mother, who loves crabs but for some strange reason will never admit it, absolutely astound me with the dexterity and speed with which she crunched her way through a mountain of crab shells with the utmost of ease.  I mean, from my youthful perspective, those crab shells were like iron shields and my mother was Superman or something.

chinese, crab, flower crab, recipe, seafood, steamed

We stopped by the wet market and checked out all chaos of fish and frogs and eels and water splashing and blood and guts and scales flying through the air, etc., and got inspired to picked up some live Flower Crab, which is very common here in Hong Kong and has a very tender sweet flesh.  These are smaller blue crabs with spots on their shells and legs.  We have found that smaller crabs tend to have sweeter meat but you have to work more to get at the meat while larger crabs have much more meat but a tougher chewier texture.  

Make sure that whatever you get fits into your steamer in one go.  I would seriously love to eat crab every week expect I would probably die of itchy skin-itis if I did.  So...I am content with a once in a while treat.

chinese, crab, flower crab, recipe, seafood, steamed

Toss the crabs in the fridge to knock them out before steaming and make sure you have some of those nut cracker thingys or better yet some sharp scizzors on hand to break up the shells.  Unless you're like my mother in which case just bring your teeth to the table and you'll be fine.
Chinese Steamed Crabs Recipe 清蒸花蟹
(Prep time: 1 mins  Cook time: 15 mins)

  • 3 small or 2 large crabs, live
  • 2 tsp ginger, sliced into very thin matchsticks
  • 1 tbsp Chin Kiang Vinegar (or any rice vinegar you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (a finer dipping soy sauce if possible)


Boil the water in a large steamer.  Wash the crabs, removing the tail flap on the underside of the crab and scrubbing well all over with a brush.

Place crab into a large dish that will fit into the steamer.  When water is boiled, place the dish into the steamer, being careful of the hot steam.   Steam for 15 minutes.

Take out of steamer and serve along with two small sauce dishes of 1) Ginger and vinegar 2) Soy Sauce.  Eat with or without dipping into the sauce, it depends on your preference.  For myself I like to eat it without dipping mostly.  The meat is so yummy already!



  1. The description of your mom made me laugh! :) Just found your food blog, and I love it! Can't wait to see what else you cook.