Shallow-Fried Soft-Shell Crabs

Locale: China

Source: Irene Kuo, The Key to Chinese Cooking [p. 241]

Serves: 3-4


  • 4 large or 6 medium-sized soft-shell crabs
  • 0.5 c cornstarch
  • 6 tbs oil
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs cilantro or parsley, chopped


  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 3 tbs Chinese wine
  • 1 tbs cider vinegar
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 small scallion, finely chopped
  • 2 quarter-sized slices ginger
  • 1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 0.25 c water


  1. Clean and quarter the crabs (or halve if extra small). Coat each piece with cornstarch. Combine the sauce and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add scallions, ginger, and cornstarch mixture and stir well.

  2. Heat a large, heavy skillet until very hot. Add 6 tbs oil, swirl, and heat for 30 seconds. Pour half of the oil into a small bowl and reserve. Turn heat to medium, shake excess cornstarch off crabs, add them to skillet, and shallow-fry for about 3 minutes, until brown and crisp on bottom. Dribble reserved oil back into pan from the side. Flip crabs over and brown them on the other side for 3 minutes, lowering heat if they brown too fast.

  3. Turn heat high, pour in the sauce. Let it sizzle for about 1 minute, flipping the crabs over once and cooking untilt hey absorb the sauce. Sprinkle in sesame oil. Transfer crabs to a serving dish. Serve, garnished with cilantro or parsley.


  1. 2008-11-21: