Meaty bairdi crab legs are briefly steamed just until heated through, then they get a quick flash in a wok (or skillet) with butter and aromatics to create the ultimate 5-napkin crab fest. Sturdy kitchen scissors make easy work of cutting the legs into manageable pieces.
- 1 bairdi cluster (approx. 4 legs and body), thawed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 2 scallions, finely chopped, plus some sliced for garnish
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- ½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or sambal oelek
- ½ lime
Separate the crab legs from the body and break into segments at the joints. Using a sturdy knife cut the body into 2 pieces. Cut the large section of each leg between the joints into 2 pieces using kitchen shears or a sturdy knife.
Place the crab into a wok or skillet with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Cover and steam just until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain well and wipe out the pan.
Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the butter, oil, scallions, ginger, sesame seeds, and as much red pepper flakes or sambal as desired, and stir-fry just until sizzling. Add the crab and stir-fry until coated with the sizzling mixture. Transfer to a deep platter, scraping all of the butter and aromatics on top. Add a squeeze of lime and sprinkle with sliced scallions. Serve right away with claw crackers and lots of napkins. Dip the crab meat into the surrounding butter and enjoy!
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Pair it Up
Reach for an aromatic white wine or orange wine from grapes like Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, or Muscat. Anything within the range of bone dry to a touch of sweetness will pair beautifully — it’s your call.
Level it Up
Add a bit of finely chopped lemongrass, lime leaves, and some toasted sesame oil for Southeast Asian flavors.
Change it Up
Fold leftover crab into steamed rice or noodles. Use the crab shells to make a flavorful stock.
Lighten it Up
To balance the natural richness of crab, swap out the butter with neutral oil such as peanut or safflower oil.
Know Your Cook
Culinary Director Grace Parisi is a cook, writer and cookbook author. Formerly the Senior Test Kitchen Editor at Food & Wine Magazine and Executive Food Director at TimeInc Books, her work has appeared in Cooking Light, Health, O Magazine, Epicurious, Fitness, Today, Serious Eats, Martha Stewart, and many more. She’s the author of more than 6 books, among them The Portlandia Cookbook and Get Saucy, which was nominated for a James Beard award for Best Single Subject Cookbook.
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