Steamed Crab with Custard

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Preparation info

  • Serves


    as a Main Course.
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Chinese Technique

By Ken Hom

Published 1981

  • About

Steaming is a gentle, moist method of cooking that minimizes the possibility of overcooking and drying out the crab. Here the crab is steamed with an unusual custard that provides a counterpoint to the crab with its salty flavor and its soft texture. The custard cooks on the same plate as the crab for an exquisite banquet presentation. It is equally good made with clams or lobster. The custard is delicious by itself, too. Without the custard, the cut-up crab may be steamed with the same seasonings as steamed whole fish or in black bean sauce.


  • 1 live crab, about 1¼ to 1½ pounds, cut up just before cooking
  • 2 preserved salted duck eggs (optional)


  • 4 large chicken eggs (use 2 if using the duck eggs)
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • Pinch of salt, or more if duck eggs are not being used
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped Chinese chives
  • ¼ cup chicken broth


  • 4 scallions, white part only, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil



  1. Reassemble the raw crab on a serving plate, tucking the meat back inside the body and the legs underneath.

  2. Separate the preserved duck eggs. Combine the whites with the rest of the custard ingredients. Set the yolks aside.

  3. Set the yolks at either side of the crab, then pour the custard mixture over all.

  4. Set the platter in a steamer. (If it won’t fit in a wok, improvise a steamer like the one used for fish on page 00.) Cover and steam for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crab is cooked through.

  5. Garnish the crab with shredded scallions. Just before serving, heat 2 tablespoons oil to the smoking point and drizzle it over the crab.

  • Suggested Beverage: Chardonnay or white Burgundy