Dungeness Crab in Black Pepper & Lemongrass Sauce


For religious reasons, people of some nations do not eat shellfish (they may only eat fish with scales) and some religions prohibit eating products from living things.  Although my Faith does not prohibit us from eating any kind of animal or sea products, my parents, being from the Middle-East, were not used to eating seafood. In fact, they hesitated. The only time we had seafood, a specific white fish
(with herb rice/sabzi polo), was on  Naw-Ruz, which is traditional.

But, I grew-up in Japan, a country surrounded by ocean. Japanese cuisine includes an elaborate repertoire of seafood dishes. Japanese eat all kinds of treasures from the sea, cooked or raw. Unfortunately, this was not the case at our home.  My parents had a hard time acquainting themselves with the idea. I did not learn to appreciate seafood (not everything, but just a few items really)
until I came to the USA and when I visited Japan as an adult.

When I turned 50 (many moons ago), something about me changed. I rarely crave seafood and eat it only a few times a year.  My story should explain why this is the first seafood post on this blog after almost two years of culinary blogging.

In early 1995, I was sent to beautiful and modern Singapore on a business trip. My Singaporean colleagues wanted to treat me to their most famous meal for dinner, at Jumbo Seafood Restaurant.

Chilli Crab is listed at number 35 on World’s 50 most delicious foods, complied by CNN Go in 2011. Being a featured dish of Singapore, this popular seafood is a must try dish to complete the journey of local food discovery for any travelers. ~The Best Singapore.com

If you wish to try insanely tasty chilli and/or black pepper crabs, Jumbo Seafood Restaurant is the place to go. If you only have time to try just one Singaporean food, one of these dishes should be your choice.  They are one of those dishes to dig into by hand and not mind looking absolutely messy after finishing your meal. But don’t worry. There will be huge sinks available in several locations, in the midst of dining room tables, for you to wash your face and hands. Also, don’t forget to ask for bibs, which are a must.

As much as I want to post a recipe for the chilli crab dish, I have not tried making it yet (stay tuned). Today, I am posting a very simple version of the black pepper crab. It is easy and you will have all necessary ingredients at hand.

Dungeness Crab in Black Pepper & Lemongrass Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 1 ~ 2 Hrs
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Recipe by:   Fae’s Twist & Tango   (fae-magazine.com)

Dungeness Crab Fae's Twist & Tango


Recommend one crab (450~680 gr/1~1.5 lbs) per person.
•   2 crabs = 3 lbs Dungeness or crab available at your market (buy cooked, cleaned & cracked or see here for how to)

Sauce mixture
•   1 stalk fresh lemongrass – ends, coarse leaves removed & sliced/chopped  (= 45 gr)
•   1 Tbsp (12 gr) peeled, sliced, fresh ginger
•   1½ tsp (10 gr) garlic
•   1½ Tbsp natural honey
•   2 Tbsp less-sodium soy sauce
•   1½~2 tsp ground black pepper (actually, this is easy on the quantity, add/adjust to taste)
•   1 Tbsp vegetable oil
•   several sprigs of greens for garnish, i.e. cilantro, radish sprouts


◊  In a food processor, finely process lemon grass, ginger and garlic. Empty into a small bowl.
Add honey, soy sauce and black pepper and mix well.   (Extra amount of sauce may be made to spoon out from the pot and to be served in individual small dishes at the table.)

◊  In a large pot, heat oil and add black pepper mixture and let it come to a boil and cook for 1 minute.
Add cooked/prepared, warm crabs and stir to coat well.  Dish out the the coated crabs into a large platter and garnish with greens (for color and refreshing taste in between bites).

◊  Goes well with hot steaming rice.

~  慢慢吃!•  mànmàn chī!  ~

So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?

Check out Fae’s → Recipe Index

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  1. This sounds very good! As soon as the crab season open again and we catch some, will try this recipe!

  2. This looks and sounds amazing!! I haven’t cooked crab in so long. I think you may have started something haha

  3. Dungeness crab is even tastier than Alaskan king (albeit more difficult to eat). A few places in Seattle used to make a similar thing cooked in a wok. I had forgotten about that and how much I used to enjoy eating them.
    I agree with Fig and Quince, nice revamp on your site; looks great! Keep up the good work.

  4. Crab is fun to eat, though requires a bit of patience to crack them and a little mess :) As always, I learn some new interesting things when I visit your blog. This crab recipe is on my list as I have prepared crab only a couple of ways. Glad that you can enjoy crab now and then.

    1. Hi Samantha! You are right, very messy and tricky to eat and… it is wonderful! :D
      I used to eat crab by jut dipping into ponzu, a few drops of rice vinegar and sometimes a few drops of hot oil dip.

  5. As you know I don’t eat any kind of fish so I totally relate to your parents’ … taste! Let me just bow to you for handling those crabs. I still have to find the courage to handle crabs and lobsters for Stefano’s sake. The sauce sounds fantastic. I’m thinking to use them for other fish I cook for Stefano and her majesty. Thank you, Fae!

    1. I hear you, believe me. I’m planning to post a few more seafood recipes of seafood that I do eat now-and-then. :D )))

  6. For me crab has always been a wonderful delicacy. Your dish looks lovely, and I hope to give it a try soon!

  7. I’m so glad you posted this. When I worked as a private chef, I had regular clients who had lived in Singapore and asked me to make this dish for them. The version I found was good, but not quite what I had hoped for. I wish I had your recipe at the time! The sauce looks fabulous…

    1. Aww, this is a very simple version of it, with ingredients available at your regular grocer.

  8. Oh, how the delicate flavors of crab, lemongrass and honey must blend together with spicy garlic, ginger and pepper to a lovely perfection! G

  9. afracooking · · Reply

    This dish looks so amazingly vibrant and fresh!

  10. I must have this. Soon. The Hubster isn’t a fan of crab, which means more for me! However, if you tackle the chilli crab recipe, he just might give it a go. :-)

  11. Oh, that crab looks and sounds fantastic. My stomach is rumbling now!

  12. Looks wonderful Fae! I love crab and haven’t eaten it in ages. I also love lemongrass and I bet that sauce tastes delicious.

  13. What a fresh, flavorful looking dish! I can’t wait to see your chili crab recipe!

    1. Yes, yes… I have to do my homework on getting the recipe of chilli crab that I experience in Singapore. :D )))

  14. Beautiful dish! Dungeness crab has to be one of the most delicious ingredients on earth – so naturally sweet and succulent. The sauce sounds amazing. You know, I have blue fugu/blowfish chopstick holders too — seeing yours made me smile, and your photo of the bowl of rice is gorgeous ;) You could frame that for the kitchen.

    1. Thank you, Laura. The funny thing is, while I was taking the photos, I put my camera down and my hand must have accidentally pushed on the shutter. When I was reviewing the photos to choose the best ones, this photo of the rice bowl was there. I was thrilled! I love decorative chopstick holders. Chinese cuisine has spoon-and-knife holders I’ve seen in the restaurants/hotels. If I see them being sold, I like to buy some. Hmm, I shall check the internet. :D )))

  15. Amazing, Fae. I too was not raised on shellfish. Scales we could do, shellfish, not so much. So it is a little foreign to me, but I really love the taste. I had no idea how many things you could do with shellfish until visiting New Orleans. I have yet to go East and try a dish like this though, with soy sauce. What’s so great about shell fish is that you have to do very little to it to make it taste absolutely magical. Thanks for sharing this dish and congrats on making it!

    1. Thank you for the input, Amanda. So, there are others like me. I agree about one needs to do so little to make a fabulous dish out of shellfish. I will try to post more dishes when I get my hands on fresh seafood.

  16. Thank you, Sylvia. I really have to get the chilli crab down. :P

  17. Not a big fan of seafood myself unless it’s fried, but steamed crabs I enjoy. Chili crab from Jumbo Seafood even better. Didn’t try the black pepper crab, though. Looks and sounds divine!

    1. I hear you. Crunchy fried, and don’t forget, grilled! ;)

  18. this looks fantastic Fae!

  19. This looks fantastic Fae!

  20. How gorgeous and decadent, Fae. I love how you create recipes from your many travels and places you have lived. The lemongrass in the dish looks especially inviting. Beautiful photos and recipe. Best – Shanna

    1. Thank you very much, Shanna! This one is the simple one. Lemongrass is really cool, especially for seafood. I have to come up with more recipes to use it in. :P

  21. Utterly divine! As Usual Fae! Thank you~

  22. Wow! Your post is so beautiful! I do not generally buy whole crabs or cook them, but this recipe tempts me to go beyond my self-imposed limits. Thanks for the inspiring post and recipes!

  23. A lovely read thanks. I love seafood but my husband refused to eat fish until 5 years ago. Now I get to try the good stuff also at home where I always had to only eat fish in restaurants as he also could not even stand the smell of it cooking in our house. Happiness! But how strange that his taste also suddenly changed and now he eats it with gusto!

    1. Good to hear you reached happiness! :D My husband can eat seafood morning, noon and night. I’m the one who can’t stand the smell. Now he eats only when we go out to eat. He is now happy that I will be doing some seafood posts and he gets to feast. :D )))

  24. a beautiful dish and I totally love the revamped look of the blog. very clean and elegant!

  25. What a delicious sounding dish. We don’t get dungeness crab on the east coast but I think your sauce would be wonderful prepared with jumbo shrimp.

    1. I think so too, Karen! I shall give it a try too! :D )))

  26. Hello there. Thank you for visiting y blog too and congrats for your recipes!! Best – Antonio

  27. Beautiful pictures! Do you have any recommendations for a great Singapore cuisine cookbook?

    1. Hello, Please go to my post FAVORITE COOKBOOKS. You will see the photo of only Singaporean cookbook I have and purchased it when I was visiting the country.
      I was looking for a cookbook which would have varieties of ways to prepare crabs and this one fit the bill. It has many recipes and beautiful photos as well.

  28. Agree with comment above, your articles are mastepieces. Wish I could Dungeness crab in Rome!!!

    1. Hi Jo!
      - Oh in Rome, you get other marvelous foods! :P
      - I’m sure, you must have some species of crab in Italy too, right? Other than December~January time, what we get here is frozen ones.

  29. Wow! Your blog looks fabulous Fae! I love it. So easy to read and very clean looking. This is a lovely crab presentation.

  30. That’s great. I love crabs, but I immagine how great they can be with the lemongrass and ginger sauce!

    1. The ginger flavor is there for sure, but it is the lemongrass and lots of black pepper which makes this sauce stand out.

  31. I love crab, this is wonderful the black pepper lemongrass sauce sounds great with the crab. I can almost taste that sweet crab meat dipped in the sauce. Lovely lovely recipe.

  32. Wow! That’s it…I’m coming over! ;)

  33. This brings back some delicious memories of Singapore where I spent a happy couple of years. It is time I recreate it, even though we only find frozen crab here. Thanks for the inspiration.

  34. I also love seafood :) . Your crabs look delicious!

  35. I love crabs and this dish looks undeniably delicious!! And about that Chili Crab, we will wait for that. P.S. I love that bowl of yours and those… what are they? Chopstick holder? :D So cute!! Have a wonderful Wednesday, Fae!

    1. Oh yes, I have to get that chilli crab recipe down! Those little blue porcelain goldfishes are chopstick holders. Do you know in Japan you rarely find (any) sets sold in even numbers (suppose to be bad luck)? All sets of chopstick holders (or little dishes in sets) I have are in sets of 5.

  36. Oh Fae, another masterpiece! Your wide repertoire for cooking amazes me every time. We love crabs. Enough said :D And I think the new look for the blog is stunning! It’s fresh, crisp, modern and showcase your recipes and photos beautifully. A wonderful way to start off the New Year! Sharon


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