Ginger-Garlic Stir-Fried Crab


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes



Appears in

Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food


By Nik Sharma

Published 2018

  • About

I’ve eaten blue crabs in Maryland, Dungeness crabs in San Francisco, and mud crabs in Bombay, and I’ve noticed that no matter which coast you’re on or in which country, locals love to celebrate crab season. I like my crabs cracked gently so it’s easy to access the juicy, tender meat hidden inside. They’re especially good stir-fried and coated with this highly aromatic sauce made with ginger, garlic, chiles, and, of course, a little bit of lime juice.


  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 lb [1.8 kg] live crabs
  • ¼ cup [60 ml] vegetable oil
  • 1 cup [140 g] finely diced red onion
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ cup [35 g] minced garlic
  • ¼ cup [25 g] grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeded, if desired, and minced
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp jaggery or brown sugar
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • Cooked rice, pilaf, or bread, such as Naan, for serving


Fill a large bowl with ice and plenty of cool water. Set aside until this ice bath is needed.

Fill a large stockpot with water, add 1 tsp of the salt, and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Drop in the crabs and cook until the shells turn orange, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or a pair of tongs and transfer to the ice bath. Once the crabs are cool and easy to handle, drain the ice bath. To partially remove the shell from each crab, discard the top shell, the white spongy gills, the greenish-brown liver, and the mouthparts. If you like, you can leave the soft, yellow fat in the crab for a richer taste. Flip over the crab and, using a cleaver or large kitchen knife, cut the crab in half lengthwise along its midline. Using a mallet, lightly crack the shell.

Heat a large Dutch oven, stockpot, or wok over high heat, and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the coriander, garlic, ginger, and chiles and cook until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds. Add the crabs, pepper, jaggery, and remaining 1 tsp salt. Stir gently to coat the crabs with the aromatics and turn the heat to low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated from the pot and the oil has separated from the onion mixture, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Drizzle the lime juice over the crabs and garnish with the fresh cilantro. Serve hot with the rice, pilaf, or bread.