Monday, March 7, 2011

Alaskan King Crab (Part 2)……..Recipe #1, Steamed with Garlic Sauce (Chinese Style)...Just like your Favorite Chinese Restaurant!

This recipe is Part 2 of a ongoing series about Vancouver's Alaska King Crab Season.
Part 1 of the Alaskan King Crab Series can be found here.  All the recipes will eventually be posted as individual posts.  Please check back!

Alaskan King Crabs can look a bit intimidating...they move around, have massive heads and are quite spiny.  If you can get past all of that and try cooking this is your own kitchen, you will be rewarded with something really amazing.
  There is nothing like the texture and taste of fresh Alaskan King Crab. It's live're not going to get anything better than that.  If you can't deal with this, then please at least once, gather a few friends and try this meal at a restaurant., though I highly recommend preparing this meal at home.  Take your time.  Do it course by will all be fine!

It's really not that difficult to prepare, especially if you have a good fish monger to help with the dressing of the crab.
There are not many recipes around for this "Chinese Style" preparation so here is my version. Please try it and let me know how it works out for you. We had fabulous results at A Wok in The Tuscan Kitchen, so I hope you do too.  

This recipe is for an 8 – 10 pound crab.  Our crab was actually divided equally into 3 dishes as I did 3 different preparations for our Alaskan King Crab Feast, a fourth dish was created using the leftover sauces from the crab. See the full Alaska King Crab Feast menu and photos here.  Subsequent recipes will be posted soon.

Before we get to the crab recipe, you will need to prepare a lot of garlic.
OK, don’t start groaning.  It’s worth it!
This is the most labor-intensive part of the recipe.  The rest will be easy.   Keep reading and I will give you a very helpful hint about peeling garlic cloves at the end of the post.  You will have all the garlic peeled before you know it.  10 minutes, tops!

If you think you want to skip making the garlic sauce and just add chopped fresh garlic to your crab, go ahead….but the results will not be as tasty as preparing the garlic “sauce” first.  I’ve experimented with both and the garlic sauce version is much better and right on par with the restaurant versions of this dish.  Fresh chopped garlic will be a bit harsher and sharper tasting.  The garlic sauce is more fragrant and mellow, as the sharpness is dissipated through the initial cooking.

So ladies and gentlemen, here you have compliments of the Wok in the Tuscan Kitchen...........

Garlic Sauce  (for steamed Alaskan King Crab, a la Asian Restaurant Style)
3 or 4 whole *Garlic Bulbs, peeled and finely chopped (yes, bulbs!)
*reserve 1-2 tablespoon for Crispy Garlic Bits for garnish, recipe below
½ Cup Cooking Oil (Grapeseed or Canola)
1 Tsp salt or 1 Tsp Chicken stock powder or a combination of the two
1 Tsp Sesame Oil (the roasted Asian type)
2 Tsp Shaoxing Cooking wine (optional)
Tiny pinch of sugar
White Pepper (substituting black pepper is not recommended)

Combine everything in a skillet and gently heat up the mixture on medium-low heat.
You do not want the garlic to brown or take on any color.  A low and slow method is necessary here.  You want to bring out the sweetness of the garlic and infuse the oil with flavor…….don’t rush this and try and do it on high heat.  It won’t work!
Heat for 10-15 minutes until the garlic is soft and very fragrant. If the garlic starts to brown, lower the heat.  Remember to stir often as the mixture is heating.

View the video to get an idea of what you are looking for a when the garlic sauce is done.

Allow the mixture to cool completely before using on the crab.

Crispy Fried Garlic Bits /Garlic Oil (for garnish)
This step is optional, but is really worth doing.
I recommend making a bigger batch of this and keeping it on hand  to add to noodle soups and congee……. Very tasty and highly addictive.

Small Batch
1-2 Tbsp chopped garlic
1/4 Cup  of cooking oil

Big Batch:
2 Bulbs (yes!) chopped garlic
1 Cup Cooking Oil

Combine the garlic and oil in a small saucepan.  On medium-low heat, slowly heat the mixture until the garlic begins to boil and sizzle.  ( approx. 3-4 minutes)
Once boiling and the garlic starts to take on color…….watch very carefully.

This video shows the garlic just starting to boil.

Keep cooking on low heat until the garlic is a golden caramel color.  Remove from heat immediately.  The garlic goes from perfect to burnt and bitter very quickly….be careful to not over brown the garlic.
The color of golden brown sugar is perfect.  The color of instant coffee is way too dark.

Crispy Fried Garlic Bits/Garlic Oil

The Crispy Fried Garlic Bits can be stored in a sealed glass jar for 3-4 weeks.  I don’t recommend storing in plastic containers.  Not sure why, but plastic seems to go a bit gummy after a while.

OK...the moment you have been waiting for.........down to business with the big guy!

Steamed Alaskan King Crab with Garlic Sauce, Chinese style
8-10 lbs Alaska King Crab, chopped into pieces, legs butterflied*
1 recipe Garlic Sauce (small batch)
Finely julienned scallions or green onions for garnish
Crispy Fried Garlic bits for garnish

Prepare your steamer by bringing water to a rolling boil. Be sure your platter will fit in the top portion of your steamer.  You will probably have to steam the crab in 2 or 3 batches, depending on the size of your steamer.
Lay out the crab in a single layer on a large serving platter, cut side up. Choose a platter that has a bit of a rim, so that you catch all the yummy steaming juices from the crab.  (Save the juices for either rice or noodles.  A recipe  for noodles will be provided in a future post.)

Spoon a generous amount of the garlic sauce onto each piece of crab meat.

Place the platter into the top part of the steamer.  (The water should be at a rapid boil)
Cover with the lid and continue to steam for 6-8 minutes with the water at a rolling boil.
Once the crab meat changes from clear and translucent (see above) to white and flakey(see below), the crab is done.  

Carefully remove the platter from the steamer. Top the cooked crab with a drizzle of Garlic oil from the Crispy Fried Garlic Bits, sprinkle with Crispy Garlic Bits and Scallions.  Enjoy!

*butterflied means to have the pieces split into two halves.  If your fish monger will not prepare your crab for you, just use a pair of sharp kitchen shears and cut lengthwise up the crab legs.  You want to cut open the legs and have an equal amount of meat on each half of the shell.  This step is essential for the steaming method, as it is integral to the recipe that the garlic sauce comes into contact with the crab meat.  If you try this recipe with uncracked legs, the results will be disappointing. 

T&T fully dressed our Alaska King Crab, so it was very easy to prepare at home.
Some places will only chopped the legs up into manageable pieces.  Use the scissor technique to cut open and split the legs.

As promised the big secret to peeling and preparing the chopped garlic.  Quick and easy!

Hold the garlic end to end, between your thumb and index finger.

Squeeze your finger and thumb together!

The skin will split making it very easy to peel the garlic.

I prefer this method to wacking the garlic clove with a knife.  It's tidier and your fingers don't get so smelly!

Use a mini chopper or food processor to chop up your garlic, rather than chopping by hand.

In 3 seconds flat, all your garlic will be finely minced!

So there, what do you think? It's pretty simple, right?
Nothing to fear......try it.
If you have any questions, just drop me a note!


  1. This is such a coincidence! I was just thinking of making some crabs at home and was looking for some recipe and here I find you :)

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  2. Kankana,
    I do hope you try this recipe. King Crab Season is short, so do it while they are plentiful and more affordable.

    This recipe works with dungeness crab too.

  3. Thank you for the recipe with such a detailed instructions and tips. I really appreciate that. I'm waiting for the price of AKC to drop some more to 9.99 a lb before trying this recipe. BTW, which T&T did u go to that fully prepared your crab? I hope the one in Richmond will do it too. Thanks again.

  4. Hi Crispy,
    You're welcome for the recipe. I do hope you will try it out and report back.
    Yes, the T&T in Richmond fully dressed the AKcrab for me. Just tell them you are steaming it and want the legs split in half.

  5. Thanks for the AKC recipe! Can't wait for the deep fried and the noodle recipes to be posted. I've always loved having them at the restaurant and now i can try it at home.

  6. sounds like you are a professional!

  7. I mean, I agree with the anonymous guy.. sounds like your a pro chef :) and this recipe looks absolutely amazing. I'm not sure if I can do this with my cooking skills, surely i'm good when cooking in Papa's kitchen (cooking games) and when I make pancakes hehe, but this recipe is just too complicated for me i'm afraid :S