Crab and Egg

Dan Chao Pangxie

Preparation info

    Appears in

    Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook

    By Ellen Schrecker

    Published 1976

    • About

    Flavor: Mild and Gingery

    The changing seasons determined the menu in the Szechwanese countryside. Spring was the time for delicate green vegetables; the tender young bamboo shoots that sprouted in the small grove next to the family’s kitchen were spring foods, just as fresh fruits and melons were summer ones. Winter was the time for steamed dishes and big bowls of soup noodles, over which the children warmed their hands.

    Crabs were also a seasonal delicacy. The food literature of China is full of mouth-watering descriptions of the crab-eating orgies that took place during September and October in the Yangtze delta. Though less renowned, the fresh-water crabs of Szechwan were just as delicious. Mrs. Chiang’s mother would steam them or fry them with wine and ginger, and sometimes she would cook them with scrambled eggs. This was the children’s favorite. The combination of the rich flavor of the eggs with the sweet crabmeat is delightful. It produces a subtle, delicate dish that is also very easy to prepare. You can make it with fresh or frozen crabmeat, shelled or unshelled. But you can’t use canned crabmeat; both its taste and texture are wrong.

    Method

    Preparation

    2 scallions Clean the scallions, then chop them, both the white part and about one-third of the green, into tiny pieces, about the size of a match head.
    1-inch: piece fresh ginger Peel the ginger, then chop it quite fine, until it reaches the consistency of coarse cornmeal; you should have about 1 tablespoon of chopped ginger.

    ½ pound fresh or frozen crabmeat or crabs in their shells

    (scallions)

    ½ tablespoon Chinese rice wine or cooking sherry

    ½ teaspoon salt

    (2 teaspoons chopped ginger)

    If the crabs are whole, chop them into 2- inch pieces. Put the crabmeat on a plate and add the scallions, wine, salt, and 2 teaspoons of the ginger. Mix thoroughly and let stand for 15 minutes.
    2 eggs Beat the eggs and set them aside.

    Cooking

    3 tablespoons peanut oil Heat the pan over a moderately high flame for 15 seconds, then add the oil. It will be hot enough to cook with when the first tiny bubbles form and a few small wisps of smoke appear.

    (crabmeat and marinade)

    (remaining ginger)

    ½ teaspoon granulated sugar

    When the oil is ready, quickly add the crabmeat and its marinade, the rest of the chopped ginger, and the sugar. Stir-fry all these ingredients together very vigorously for about 1 minute, using your cooking shovel or spoon to scoop the ingredients from the sides of the pan and then stir them around in the middle, so everything is exposed to the hot oil.

    1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine or cooking sherry

    ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

    Continuing to stir-fry, pour in the wine. Taste the crabmeat for salt before you add it (Since this is a slightly bland dish, it will probably need plenty of salt to bring out the subtle flavors of the ginger and crabmeat.)
    (eggs)

    After you have added the wine and salt, stir-fry the crabmeat for about 45 seconds more, then pour in the beaten eggs. Keep on stirring up the crab and eggs until the eggs are thoroughly cooked; this should not take more than 1 minute.

    As soon as the eggs are cooked, remove the pan from the fire and serve.