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Cracked Crab with Lemongrass, Black Pepper, and Basil

Photo: Peden & Munk; Styling: Amy Wilson


Total time 1 hr, 15 mins
Yield Serves 4
Big, bold Southeast Asian flavors team up in a perfect balance of salty, sweet, hot, and aromatic.


  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, ends trimmed and coarse leaves discarded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 fully cooked Dungeness crabs (about 2 lbs. each), cleaned, legs cracked, and bodies quartered
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro sprigs
  • 1 cup loosely packed Thai basil leaves or small regular basil leaves

Nutrition Information

  • calories 351
  • caloriesfromfat 35 %
  • protein 35 g
  • fat 13 g
  • satfat 2.1 g
  • carbohydrate 23 g
  • fiber 2 g
  • sodium 1060 mg
  • cholesterol 163 mg

How to Make It

  1. Chop lemongrass. Put in a food processor with ginger and garlic; whirl until minced. Scrape into a large bowl and stir in honey, soy sauce, and pepper. Add crabs and stir to coat well. Cover, then chill at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour.

  2. Pour oil into a 14-in. wok or a wide 8- to 10-qt. pot over medium-high heat. With a slotted spoon, add crabs (reserve marinade). Cover and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes (omit this cooking time if using fully cooked crabs).

  3. Uncover pan, add marinade, and cook, stirring often, until crabs are steaming and meat is opaque, about 5 minutes.

  4. Stir in cilantro and basil, then transfer crabs and juices to a serving bowl.

  5. Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.

Also appeared in: Sunset, December, 2008;