Ginger & spring onion crab

Ginger & spring onion crab

Hong Kong Diner
Kris Kirkham

Growing up in a family full of dominating, slightly arrogant Chinese cooks made it difficult ever to get a compliment when cooking. The FIRST TIME I EVER EARNED A COMPLIMENT from my dad in the kitchen, was when I cooked this dish, and even then it was so subtly communicated I nearly missed it altogether. The whispered murmurs and NODS OF SATISFACTION around the table stamped the certificate of the highest honour with a waxed seal of approval: MY FIRST EVER CULINARY ACHIEVEMENT, handed down by the most scrupulous of judges. Recently, while in Hong Kong, I had the honour of working with true wok master Sing Gor (big brother Sing) at his dai pai dong. And wouldn’t you know, the one dish he picked off his menu for me to make was this exact recipe. The significance for me was just as delicious as the dish itself.


Quantity Ingredient
1/2 a small red onion
2 spring onions
1 thumb-size piece of ginger
1 medium live mud crab
vegetable oil, for frying

The sauce

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/2 tablespoon shaoxing rice wine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
50ml chicken stock


  1. Dice the red onion into 1cm chunks, then roughly chop the spring onions (scallions) and finely slice the ginger. Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl.
  2. A word of warning: crab is best eaten when prepared from live. There are plenty of wonderfully detailed videos which will help you when deciding to kill the crab yourself (even one from myself – just google it!).
  3. However, if you are uncomfortable killing the crab yourself, I suggest using a ready-boiled crab with the shell on. The method below assumes your fresh crab is no longer alive.
  4. To portion the crab, first carefully remove the claws, using a quick twist. Then, keeping the crab on its back, place your fingers underneath the legs, between the body and the underside of the legs, and place your 2 thumbs pointing firmly upwards towards the legs. Push your thumbs firmly upwards, while pushing your fingers down towards the body and the table. You may find that running a blunt knife around the small gap between the shell and the legs will help to loosen the shell at this stage. This will help to separate the body from the legs.
  5. Once you have separated the two parts, remove and discard the brown ‘fingers’ which are on top of the inside part of the legs, as these are not edible. Place the head shell to one side in a bowl and clean the chopping board, ready to portion the rest of the crab. Chop the leg parts into quarters and bash them lightly with the side of your cleaver to loosen the shell, then place in a large mixing bowl. Crack the claws with the side of your cleaver, again to loosen the shell, and place in the mixing bowl.
  6. Lastly, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornflour (cornstarch) to the bowl, cover with a plate or lid, and give the whole bowl a shake, to coat the pieces of crab.
  7. Half-fill a medium pot, wok or deep-fryer with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C, or use a wooden skewer or wooden chopstick to test by placing the tip in the oil: if the wood starts to fizz after a second or so, the oil is hot enough.
  8. Using a slotted spoon or a Chinese frying skimmer, carefully lay the pieces of crab in the hot oil and deep-fry for 3–4 minutes. Remove the crab and place on a couple of pieces of kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil. If you have been using a wok, pour the deep-frying oil into a metal or ceramic mixing bowl.
  9. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in the wok to a high heat and when smoking hot, add the onions, ginger and spring onion. Stir-fry for 1 minute on a high heat, then add the crab portions and stir-fry for a further 2 minutes. Now stop stirring the crab completely, to allow the wok to heat up as much as possible and become smoking hot. Pour in the sauce, cover with a lid and leave for 1 minute, still on the heat.
  10. Remove the lid and stir through once or twice, then serve. It’s best when eaten with your fingers, a cold beer and a pile of napkins or wipes on hand for cleaning up.


  • If using live crab, keep the crab in the coldest part of your fridge, as they become dormant in cold temperatures and will therefore be easier to handle.
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