"Spicy Crab Noodles is so easy and delish. Best when made with fresh Dungeness (or whatever your local crab is) - but if none is available, use a good canned lump meat crab found in the refrigerator section of most supermarkets and fish markets"
The making of Spicy Crab Noodles
When Dungeness crab is in season, BB could eat it 24/7. Cooked, freshly picked from the shell - however.
I too love it just freshly picked from the shell, but after a while, I want to do more with it. Crab cakes, such as my recipe for Crab Cakes with Fresh Mango Slaw are always an excellent use of crab, as are my recipes for quiche, including Crab and Smoked Salmon Crustless Quiche or Crab, Shrimp and Artichoke Heart Quiche.
Crab Mac n Cheese? Sure, another tasty choice. But, if you know me, you know that I like to try new and different things. Or sometimes, to just try to recreate an old culinary memory. One that has stuck around in my head, and on my taste buds for years. Such as this idea for Spicy Crab Noodles.
Where it began
Going back into the way-back machine, at the time when BB worked for the San Francisco Visitor's and Convention Bureau and my life revolved around the greatest chef's and restaurants in San Francisco, we had a marvelous crab noodle dish at the Slanted Door - one of Charles Phan's restaurants. It was a simple noodle dish, with the typical Thai flavors, sweet, sour, salty, spicy, served with fresh Dungeness crab pieces.
My recipe is LOOSELY based on his...very loosely. I really didn't think to look if there was a recipe online for his version of it. I know, really? But I just did what I love to do best, take a memory and make it into a reality.
At least my new reality...
Noodles Noodles Noodles
In Mr. Phan's version of the dish, he used cellophane noodles. I like cellophane noodles just fine, even though they lack a "flavor" element and are mostly texture, they are a fine choice AND using them helps keeps the dish gluten-free. Buckwheat noodles are another gluten-free choice that works fine with this dish. I chose udon noodles, thin udon noodles, made of flour so not gluten-free, but with a nice flavor and texture. You could also use Italian noodles, such as capellini, or just plain old spaghetti noodles.
So the noodle choice is up to you.
Crab Crab Crab
In Mr. Phan's version, he used only crab meat, no shell. I'm sure a part of that is, eating with one's hands in a restaurant might seem a bit "uncouth" - although, in my mind, certain foods demand it. I love eating crab with my fingers...digging out the meat, slurping up the juices...so I used a mixture of both crab in the shell and crab meats. With a Dungeness crab, you have a good amount of "body" meat - although for me it was not quite enough so I supplemented with a refrigerated lump meat crab - incorporating that into the dish and reserving all my sweet Dungeness meat for the top.
If Dungeness crab is not available in your area, use whatever local crab you have, or a good refrigerated lump meat crab.
REMEMBER - whenever you buy crab meat, buy only the meat sold in the refrigerated section of your store, NOT anything from the aisle. The crab sold in the aisle is crap, and should not be consumed except as possibly stirred into some sour cream to make a dip.
Mr. Phan's recipe used a simple sauce of fish sauce, oyster sauce, and sesame oil. As I said, I didn't think to look up his recipe, and in my mind's eye, it was a bit more complex than that, so I made a sauce that was/is a bit more complex than that. Although the next time I make this dish, I might add a bit of fish sauce to it - I like the complex flavor of fish sauce. But that's for next time. I liked my sauce just fine...As did the family as they dug into seconds.
I topped the dish off with some fresh sliced green onions and a squeeze of lime. The lime added a freshness to the dish, as well as that sour element. So while I say it's optional, it's not. Get the lime. Unless you live somewhere where they don't exist, then never mind.
So all in all, at the end of the day, when you have your cooked crab, and it has been cracked and cleaned, and you've dug the meat out, or, you are using a canned refrigerated lump meat crab, this delish dish can be on your table in about 20 minutes or less.
Now that's fast food!
Spicy Crab Noodles (my way)
Wine Recommendation: This dish is a bit on the spicy side so a nice cool refreshing dry Riesling is a good call for wine. Another good choice would be a Viognier with its fresh tropical fruit notes. An Italian Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris would also work.
Spicy Crab Noodles
- Spicy Sauce
- ⅓ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar sake, or dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil
- 2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil such as grapeseed oil
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
- 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and minced
- For the Crabby Part
- 1 fresh cooked Dungeness crab cracked and cleaned
- 1 8-ounce can lump meat crab meat, from the refrigerator section, optional
- 8 ounces fresh cooked noodle udon, buckwheat or rice cooked according to package directions with ½ cup cooking liquid reserved
- Sliced green onion tops for garnish, optional
- Lime wedges optional
- Prepare the sauce by combining the ketchup, hoisin, chili garlic sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame seed oil in a bowl. Mix well - set aside.
- Clean all of the meat out of the body of the crab and set aside - being careful to remove all shells. Open and drain the lump meat crab, if using. Cut and split all of the legs of the crab. Set-aside.
- If you have whole crab legs: Heat the oil in a wok or wide heavy skillet; add the ginger, garlic, jalapeno, and crab leg pieces, cook, stirring often, until heated through and nicely covered in the spices - about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. If you don't have crab pieces: Heat the oil in a wok or wide heavy skillet, add the ginger, garlic, and jalapeno, cook for about 2 - 3 minutes.
- Continue the dish by adding the sauce to the wok or skillet; bring to a simmer, then add the cooked noodles along with the crab meat(s). Toss gently to combine and heat through adding a bit of the noodle-cooking liquid if it seems too dry.
- Serve in wide bowls, topped with the crab leg pieces (if you have them) the sliced green onions and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.