Wok-Fried King Crab with Lemongrass and Ginger | Wine Enthusiast
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Wok-Fried King Crab with Lemongrass and Ginger

Courtesy Tom Douglas, owner, Tom Douglas Restaurants, Seattle

Tom Douglas is a true crab whisperer. He grew up in Delaware feasting on blue crab and now lives in Seattle, the shrine of Dungeness, “… king and opilio, and you-name-it kinds of crab,” he says. A three-time James Beard Award winner, the chef/impresario operates 18 restaurants in Seattle that include Dahlia Lounge, Palace Kitchen and Etta’s. For this recipe, “look for the fullest or heaviest king crab legs you can find,” says Douglas. Serve with Japanese short-grain rice. “Fragrant with spices, it’s perfect for soaking up the complex, well-balanced sauce with its bright flavors, sweetness and gentle spiciness.”


3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 teaspoons finely minced lemongrass (tender white part only)
2 teaspoons seeded, minced Poblano pepper
2 teaspoons minced shallot
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup chicken stock
5 teaspoons rice-wine vinegar
5 teaspoons soy sauce
2½ teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Chinese chili paste with garlic
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped Chinese fermented black beans
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 pounds king crab legs, cut into 2 inch segments, left in the shell
¼ cup sake
Pea shoots, for garnish
Julienned scallions, for garnish
Toasted black and white sesame seeds, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish


Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook lemongrass, pepper, shallot, ginger and garlic. Stir until soft, about 2 minutes. Add chicken stock, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, chili paste and black beans. Simmer 5 minutes. Dissolve cornstarch in 1 teaspoon cold water. Add to mixture. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Set aside. This can be done a few days ahead. Refrigerate sauce and reheat when ready to use.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil in wok or large skillet over high heat until almost smoking. Toss in crab pieces, add saké, cover and steam 2–3 minutes. Add lemongrass sauce and simmer until crab is heated through and sauce thickens to desired consistency, 1–2 minutes.

Arrange crab on platter, or divide between 2 plates. Pour sauce over and around crab. Garnish with pea shoots, scallions, sesame seeds and lime wedges. Serve with steamed rice. Serves 2.

Pair It

“Crab meat has natural sweetness layered with a briny, savory character,” says David Rosenthal, white winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle, which frequently partners with Tom Douglas restaurants. “Those flavors play perfectly with the fruity sweetness and savory minerality of the 2015 Eroica Riesling (Columbia Valley). The bright acidity of Eroica keeps this dish light, and the off-dry style balances the ginger and Poblano spice profile.”

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