As San Francisco’s crab season officially winds down, I’m doing all I can to stock up on the tender and sweet local sea critter and cook it in every way possible. Whether boiled, grilled, roasted or fried, I can’t seem to get enough. And neither can the rest of San Francisco, it seems.
Since the season started in November, Dungeness crab has been a staple at seafood markets and a centerpiece on restaurant menus around the city. And while the season doesn’t officially end until June, around is 80 percent is brought in by the end of the year.
A self-professed crab lover, celebrity chef Martin Yan is one cook that has made crab a shining star on the menu at his San Francisco restaurant M.Y. China. Along with his sous chefs, Yan can up with a list of crab dish options that highlight the flavors of six distinct provinces of China, including a chili crab from the Guiyang province and a “good fortune crab claypot” from Shanghai.
M.Y. China executive chef Tony Wu spared a few minutes — because that’s all this dish takes — to show me the simple, yet extremely flavorful preparation for the restaurant’s Guang Dong steamed garlic crab. This dish calls for no more than eight ingredients, a steamer (makeshift will do) and vermicelli noodles to produce the most succulent, tender crab dish I’ve had all season. Here’s how he did it:
Like any good chef, Wu gathered his ingredients. To make at home you’ll need 2 teaspoons of minced scallion, 2 teaspoons mashed garlic, 2 teaspoons of fried garlic (you can either purchase this or make it by deep frying garlic until golden), 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, 1/2 tablespoon rice wine, 1 tablespoon neutral oil and 4 ounces vermicelli noodles.
Next, Wu fished out a live crab from the restaurant’s tank and put it belly side up on the cutting board. I’ll let you guess what happened next (you can thank me later for sparing the gruesome photos). While I don’t expect you to have a live crab, this did make for the freshest tasting crab I’ve ever eaten.
Either way, you’ll need to chop up your crab between each leg and scoop out the lungs from the internal cavity. The rest is deliciousness that you can eat.
After chopping up the crab, Wu mixed all his other ingredients together, save the scallions which served as a garnish at the end.
This delicious and fragrant mixture is then scattered over the crab evenly and placed in an industrial-sized steamer for 8 minutes. At home, you can steam the crab in large pot with a steam basket fitted over boiling water. Steaming this way should take anywhere from 10-15 minutes for a 1 pound crab. You can tell the crab is done when it’s no longer translucent, but rather white and tender.
While the crab is steaming, Wu cooked the vermicelli noodles in boiling water for about 30 seconds, or until soft and slightly sticky. This can take up to 1 minute. Super, duper fast, I know!