Roasted Garlic Crab

Many many years ago my wife and I drove around Napa Valley somewhat aimlessly, aacrabvisiting different vineyards and just taking in the scenery. At lunchtime, we stopped at a nice looking restaurant and proceeded inside and requested a table for two. They looked at us like we were nuts not having a reservation made months before but eventually they gave us two seats at the bar for a late lunch… the restaurant was Tra Vigne, with celebrated chef Michael Chiarello at the helm. I don’t remember what we ate that day but I do remember thinking that it progressed from very good to excellent to superb. Only later did we find out we were lucky to have even been given bar seats. This recipe for Roasted Crab with Garlic is patterned after a famous dish that Chef Chiarello published in his Tra Vigne cookbook. It is incredibly easy, incredibly succulent and a favorite when we are at the beach.

Take fresh and fat crabs (alimango) and clean them up and dismember alive. aacrab2The original recipe calls for Dungeness crabs so those of you abroad who can get this can also try this recipe. Heat up a large pan that can accommodate all your crab and add a generous amount of butter (say half a stick for about 1.5-2.0 kilos of crab) and about as much olive oil. Heat up this mixture and sauté tons of chopped garlic and red pepper flakes to taste (optional if you don’t want heat). Then put the crab pieces in and cook for about 5-7 minutes over high heat with a generous sprinkling of kosher salt. Place everything in a hot (400 degree) oven and cook another 10 or so minutes until the crab is done. Pull out of the oven and place on a serving platter, squeeze a lemon on top of the crab pieces and sprinkle with chopped Italian parsely. Serve hot. The sauce is superb over steamed rice. It must be heart attack material though if not taken in moderation. I know, this sounds too simple to be good, but trust me, it is excellent.


13 Responses

  1. well, the simplicity of this dish brings out the sweet and unique taste of the crab, the ingredients used will really bring out and accentuate the flavor of this crustacean. . .

  2. Yum!!!!! Will try this out soon. Marketman do you happen to have a recipe for Steamed Crab with Garlic like they serve in Chinese restaurants. This is a favorite in our family. Thanks.

  3. I haven’t tried this recipe yet but I love garlic and indeed, this roasted garlic crab sounds sinfully delicious!! I must try it soon.

  4. Maricel, sorry I don’t have a steamed garlic crab recipe…can’t even say I have tried it yet! Rose, try this just on top of the burner but on high heat. Cover for five minutes and uncover to remove excess moisture. Won’t be the same as an oven but flavors will be close.

  5. That sounds just too yummy to be true! Sometimes the simple recipe really provides the best palette for the main flavor (in this case the crab) to be showcased, no? Where do you like getting your crabs here?

  6. hi marketman. would you have tips on how to choose a good alimango? my father likes the bakla kind and we are inexperienced in assessing if a crab is siksik with laman. peking garden restaurant in glorietta makati serves delicious crabs cooked in beer.

  7. Hello louie. I have two previous entries on alimango from the earliest months of this weblog. Please check under the archives. The “sex” of the crab is supposed to be determined by the shape of the flap on its underbelly. Rounded for female and pointed for male. But there is one that is in between. If the the in-between version has eggs when you buy it, it is a female. If it doesn’t have eggs, you can’t tell what it is until you know for certain that it never has eggs. At any rate, choose crabs that are heavy for their size, in other words, weighty, just like most good pomelos or other fruit. Vendors try to show you that the crab is meaty by prying open parts of the belly to show you there is more meat than air… Personally, I just look for the liveliest looking specimens. Joey, I prefer to buy crabs at seaside market in Baclaran. I also have crabs occasionally sent from a source in Northern Palawan…they are the best but supply is unpredictable.

  8. hi marketman, did you crack the claws of the crab and split to half the body of the crab before you put it in the casserole?thanks

  9. Rowena, yes to your question. I should have made that clearer. I always clean split and crack claws. Enjoy!

  10. i love love crabs even if i’m allergic to eating them. my dad would always cook it the same way (which we all love)–with gata and vinegar. then we mix this gata sauce (looking very unappetizing–a gray mush mixture) with the rice, yum yum. he’s the only one at home who knows how to buy crab, and he’s usually abroad. so we just settle for alimasag. i wonder if this would taste as good? can this work without the baking part?

  11. Mandy, this should work with very fresh alimasag as well, but I find the meat of the alimango more substantial… the alimasag can be sweet if really fresh however.

  12. I have tried making the Thanh Long crab using local dunganese crab which is now in season. It was yumm but what a mess I made! Steaming the crab would be much easier, and healtier since Thanh long requires a couple of sticks of butter! Yikes!



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