Recipes of China: Fried Stuffed Crab from Mandarin Oriental
By Clarissa Wei
Jan. 18, 2018
Fried Stuffed Crab from Mandarin Oriental Taipei
Clarissa Wei learns to make the signature crab dish at Taipei’s most luxurious hotel.
The southeast corridor of China is teeming with waterways and freshwater creatures, like the river crab, a beloved culinary specialty throughout the area. Prized for its sweet and delicate taste, the crustacean has entire festivals dedicated to it. However, eating it tends to get messy. The meat-to-shell ratio in a typical river crab isn’t ideal and often involves really digging in.
River crab is a must-have ingredient at any fine dining restaurant. To simplify the eating process for their patrons, chefs at Hong Kong’s prestigious Fook Lam Moon restaurant pioneered a stuffed crab dish. The crustacean meat is breaded, deep-fried, and then served in an empty crab shell.
Chef Tse Man arranging the fried stuffed crab meat
“It was a dish invented specifically for the wealthy,” says Chef Tse Man, who used to work at Fook Lam Moon. When he was recruited to be the head chef at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s Ya Ge restaurant, he brought the dish with him to Taipei.
It’s remarkably simple. Most of the flavor lies in the crab meat and is only accented with a dash of salt. Tse Man says that’s entirely the point. After all, Southeastern Chinese cuisine is known for its dedication to the ingredients. Not much seasoning is added; the dishes are often naturally sweet.
Chef Tse Man molding the crab meat
Seating at Ya Ge, the flagship restaurant, is by reservation only and features a collection of private dining rooms. The dim sum menu is absolutely divine, and Man is adamant about sourcing his ingredients as locally as possible. Dining at Ya Ge is a must-try for brunch in Taipei, but if you can’t travel to Taiwan to indulge in the experience, this recipe will do.
Fried Stuffed Crab Meat
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 1 blue crab (Portunus armatus)
- 2 halved crab shells
- 1/3 cup white onion, chopped finely
- 3 raw eggs, scrambled
- 2 cups panko bread flour
- 1/2 cup fresh cream
- 1/4 stick of butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Vegetable oil
- 1/2 tbsp salt, to taste
- 1 tbsp tapioca starch
- Balsamic vinegar pearls (optional)
- Extract the meat out of crab, making sure all the bones are removed.
- Using a wok, turn heat up to high. Add 3 tbsp vegetable oil. When the pan is hot, add the crab meat and onion. Sautee briefly, for about two minutes.
- Take the contents of the wok out and set aside.
- In the same wok, add 1/4 stick of butter, cream, salt, tapioca starch, and chicken broth.
- Add the crab meat and onion mixture, and stir-fry until the butter and cream is evenly distributed. Take the contents out.
- Use the crab shell as a mold and distribute the crab meat filling so that it fills half a shell. The filling should clump together in the shell. Dust the top of the filling with a pinch of flour. Then brush with raw egg. Cover with a layer of bread crumbs. Brush with egg again, and then cover with bread crumbs again. Repeat this process for the remaining crab mixture and shell.
- Take a wok and fill, halfway, with vegetable oil. Turn the heat up to high. When it gets hot enough, turn the heat to medium. Fry the stuffed shells for three to four minutes each, or until golden brown.
- Serve. Garnish with balsamic vinegar pearls.
Mandarin Oriental, Tapei: No. 158 Dunhua North Road , 10548 Taipei City, Taiwan
Hungry for more? Follow Clarissa’s journey through China as she uncovers authentic dishes and cultural insight.