Sauteed Crab with Ginger and Basil

Sauteed Crab with Ginger and Basil Recipe

It never occurred to me until today that the reason I don't sauté crab that often is because the preparation can be very messy. Removing the abdominal flaps, separating the back fin, gathering the crab "butter" and corals from the inside of the crabs in a bowl and cracking the claws aren't the most glamorous of tasks. As I was chatting with the fish monger at my local market, he offered to clean the crabs for me and said he would do it whenever I feel like eating crab. How sweet of him!

I ran home and immediately sautéed the crab claws. To give the seafood dish a nice fragrance, I cooked the crab with freshly grated ginger, roasted garlic, sweet paprika, cayenne powder, a squeeze of lemon juice, sweet basil leaves and dry white wine. I also find that the addition of shallots and a bit of butter enhances just about any dish.

The crab was cooked perfectly; the meat came right out of the shell. And rather than getting messy eating crab at a restaurant, isn't it way better to pig out in the comfort of your own home?

Ingredients

Yields: 4 servings

3 whole fresh crabs, cleaned and separated
4 tablespoons canola oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons puréed roasted garlic (click on the link for the recipe)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 lemon, freshly squeezed
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
½ cup dry white wine
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt, to taste
2 teaspoons freshly cracked pepper, to taste
¼ cup sweet basil, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons salted butter, diced


Directions

Gather the pieces of crab in a large mixing bowl. Pat dry. Add cayenne pepper, paprika and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Toss well and set aside for 15 minutes.

Slightly bruise the basil leaves in a mortar pestle with ¼ teaspoon salt, so they're fragrant.

In a deep pan, heat the oil. Add the shallots and cook for about 3-4 minutes until slightly golden and fragrant. Transfer to a plate, leaving as much shallot-flavored oil in the pan as possible.

Dredge the crab with flour and immediately add the crab pieces and a teaspoon of salt to the pan. Jiggle the pan to make sure the crab doesn't stick to the bottom and is totally coated with oil and slightly crispy. Add ginger, turmeric and the roasted garlic. Pour in the wine and scrape the solids at the bottom of the pan. Constantly toss the crab to ensure each piece is coated with the liquid. As soon as all the liquid evaporates, add ½ to one cup of water, the lemon juice and the basil. Cover and cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring often. The crab meat should be white and opaque and the liquid should be evaporated as well. Do not over-cook the crab; or the meat will be dry! Un-cover and add the reserved shallots and butter. Toss the crab and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a large platter.

Serve immediately and enjoy!


Tips

It's important to crack the claws slightly before cooking so the liquid penetrates into the meat. I use a hammer, but you can also use the back of a knife or a meat tenderizer mallet; just make sure to crack the shell and not crush it. You don't want to be eating bits of shell!

For this dish, it's important to always keep the temperature of the stove at the highest setting. The higher the temperature, the better. If some solids start sticking to the bottom of the pan, add more wine or a little water.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on August 2, 2012.


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