Invasive Crabs*

Og Lim is a champion for surprising me, unprovoked, with this mind-blowing appetizer, the recipe for which originated with her mother, Young-hye Cho.

After landing your crab haul, select the most diminutive for this dish (don’t forget the gloves; even small crabs can give a good pinch). The remainder go into the stock pot.

  • 10 ounces (about 100) live Asian shore crabs, the smallest of your catch
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru)
  • 2 tablespoons Korean red pepper paste (gochujang)
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Peanut, grapeseed, or canola oil for deep frying
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds

Thoroughly rinse live crabs in abundant cool water. Shake off excess water in a colander.

In a large saucepan, mix together the garlic, red pepper powder, red pepper paste, soy sauce, sugar, honey, and black pepper. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a big heavy-bottomed pot or deep fryer. Meanwhile, stir together the flour and salt and coat the crabs in it, shaking off excess. When the oil is hot enough (325 to 335 degrees), add the crabs, a dozen or so at a time, frying until shells begin to redden and coating becomes a golden brown. Remove with tongs or slotted spoon and drain on rack or paper towels. When the frying is complete, heat the sauce on medium heat, stirring until well mixed and very hot. Add sesame oil, fried crabs, and sesame seeds turning to coat in the sauce. Serve immediately.

Serves 10-12

Here’s a versatile crab recipe that can be used as to build flavor into many seafood dishes Green Crab stock.

Read Paula Marcoux’s complete article on the invasive Green and Asian Shore crabs on our digital edtion, featured on, or–of course–in print (pick up a copy at an ad/partner near you).