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HomeFood & RecipesSpicy raw crab (Yangnyeom-gejang: 양념게장) recipe by Maangchi

Spicy raw crab (Yangnyeom-gejang: 양념게장) recipe by Maangchi

Today’s recipe is a favorite of mine – raw crabs marinated in a spicy seasoning, called yangnyeom-gejang. Yangnyeom means spicy sauce, and gejang is seasoned raw crab. It’s sweet, soft, spicy, and has a jelly-like texture. There are a few different kinds of gejang, depending on the seasoning, like the ganjang-gejang recipe I shared a few years ago.

I grew up in a harbor city in Korea, where every family makes the both types of gejang. This recipe is my mom’s. It’s a pretty simple recipe, the most important part is getting fresh crabs. Korean Flower crabs (called kkotge) are best because the shell is soft and they are full of meat. But you can also use blue crabs, just be careful of your teeth and fingers! To eat gejang, you need to crunch the shells with your teeth and suck out the meat, which is why a softer shell crab is easier to eat. Then you discard the shells, be careful not to eat them.

Live crabs are best, it will guarantee the freshest taste and the best texture. (See my other gejang recipe and video to see how to handle live crabs). In this video I used flash frozen crabs that were shipped frozen all the way from Korea. They can be hard to find, though. Many Korean grocery stores also have flash frozen crabs, take a look and be sure to check the expiration dates.

Female crabs are best, because their orange roe and yellow tomalley (often called the “mustard” in Maryland) make the dish more colorful, sweet, and rich. How can you tell if a crab is male or female? Flip it over and look at the apron. If it is dome shaped, it’s female; if it’s narrow and pointed, it’s male. If you are buying live crabs, be sure to pick the ones that are really live!

As I mention in the video, I have strong memories of going to the open air market early in the morning with my mom, to buy crabs for gejang. My mom was a master at handling both market sellers and crabs, she was never pinched by either of them. : )

“To handle these crabs, first thing you have to do is handle their weapons.” She would tell me, and then pound their claws with the back of her knife. This disabled their claws and as a side effect allowed the claw meat to more easily absorb the seasonings. “Now they can’t attack me.” Then she cleaned them and would mix in the seasonings and make gejang, just like making a salad.

Start making gejang the day before you want to eat it, so the crab has time to marinate. You can eat it right after making it, but letting it marinate overnight is better.



Preparing flash frozen crabs

  1. Thaw out the crabs in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight.
  2. Place the crabs in a large bowl. Run cold water over them, and scrub each one with a kitchen brush. Change the water a couple of times while cleaning. Drain.
  3. Place one crab belly up on a cutting board. Lift and twist off the flap-like apron.
Cleaning crab
  1. Flip the crab over and remove the top shell.
  2. Using your fingers, take off the feathery gills.
  3. Cut off the antennae, eyes, mouth parts, and the ends of the back legs that don’t have any meat, using scissors.
  4. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the crab body into 4 to 6 pieces and put them in a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining crabs. Rinse the crab pieces in cold water and drain.
Cleaning crabs
  1. Crack the claws with the back of the knife, which makes them safer to eat and allows them to absorb the seasoning sauce a little easier. Place the crab pieces in a large bowl.
Crack crab claws
  1. Scoop out the tomalley (the greenish digestive gland) and roe (the orange or red eggs) from the top shells with a spoon and put them in a small bowl. Rinse with cold water, drain, and add to the large bowl.
Scoop out tomally
  1. Your flash frozen crabs are now ready to be cooked!
Cleaned crabs

Mix with seasonings

  1. Add garlic, ginger, gochu-garu, soy sauce, and sugar to the crab in the large bowl. Mix until well combined.
Adding seasonings
Mixing crab
  1. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 12 hours (you can eat the crab immediately, but it will taste better after it has had time to absorb the sauce).
Add crab to container

Serving and keeping

  1. Serve cold as a side dish for rice. Yangnyeom-gejang will keep in the fridge for up to one week. If you want to save it longer than one week you can freeze it, and then when you want to eat it simply thaw it out and eat.
Spicy crab

This story originally appeared on Maangchi

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