Raw crabs marinated in soy sauce

Ganjang-gejang 간장게장

Hi everybody! I’m eventually releasing my ganjang-gejang recipe today. You’d be surprised at how many people have requested this recipe through the forum, social media, email, and even in person. This recipe might look simple to you, but it took me years to develop. It’s by far the best result!

In the video you can see how I handle these fresh crabs by putting them in the freezer for two hours. If you freeze them longer, the ganjang-gejang will not be good, and if you freeze them less, then they will come back alive when you take them out of the freezer. This might freak you out so much that you couldn’t enjoy the dish, even if you could make it from jumping crabs. : )

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One day last year, I got good quality female crabs to film this recipe. When I came home, I kept them in the freezer, but I totally forgot about the crabs until the next day! My crabs were frozen hard like rocks! Even if you thaw them out nicely, they won’t be delicious anymore and their flesh will be a viscous liquid.

One spring day this year, I attempted to film the recipe again. I bought very beautiful blue crabs, but this time I wasn’t patient enough to wait for 2 hours to freeze them. My makeup was done, and I was supposed to meet friends in the afternoon, so I waited just 1 hour. When I took them out they looked ok and calm, so I started filming. Sooner or later they started to become really active, especially in the water in my sink.

I was so scared that I felt sweat trickling down my back. I made ganjang-gejang that day, but I gave up filming it because I knew it wouldn’t look good. My mother, on the other hand, always makes gejang with live crabs and she has no problem handling them. You can do it like her if you’re brave enough; you don’t need to freeze them at all.

For the filming of this video, I waited very patiently for 2 hours while the crabs went to sleep, and it turned out very well.

ganjang-gejang

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds live blue crabs (6 or 7 crabs) (or live flower crabs)
  • 1 apple, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
  • 2-3 green chili peppers, chopped
  • 3-4 small dried red chili peppers
  • 5 inch x 8 inch dried kelp
  • 2½ cups soy sauce
  • ¼ cup rice syrup
  • 6 cups water

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Garnish

Serve with rice.

Directions

  1. Freeze crabs for 2 hours to put them to sleep.
  2. Create marinade by combining soy sauce, water, dried chili pepper, ginger, apple, dried kelp, onion, garlic, and rice syrup in a heavy pot. Cover and bring it to a boil over medium high heat for 20 minutes, until boiling.
  3. Turn down the heat to low and keep boiling the marinade for another hour.ganjanggejangganjanggejangganjanggejang
  4. Let the marinade cool down a little bit, strain it, and then let it cool down thoroughly. Set aside.ganjanggejangganjanggejang spoon
  5. Take the crabs out of the freezer. Grab one crab and put on the cutting board belly up. Remove the apron (the piece folded around under the body), by lifting it and twisting it off. Turn it over. Grab the shell with one hand and split it open with your other hand. Remove the gills with a knife or your fingers. Cut off any stringy stuff (eyes & antennae) from the edge of the shell with scissors. Clean all the crabs this way, and keep track of which shell goes with which body.
  6. Brush the crabs in cold running water to clean them thoroughly. But be sure not to wash away the tomalley (aka “mustard”). Drain and put each shell back on the body it belongs to, so that it looks a whole crab.blue crabsbluecrabsbluecrabs_cleaned
  7. Put the crab into a wide mouth glass jar or container, belly up. Pour the marinade into the jar and press the crabs down with something heavy like a rock, so they remain submerged. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

ganjanggejang_jar

ganjanggejang_sauce

ganjanggejang_injar

ganjanggejang_marinade

How to eat:

  1. Serve with rice.
  2. Cut the crab into bite size pieces with a knife or scissors. Crush the hard claw with the back of your knife, which will help you get to the delicious meat without damaging your teeth. There are many stories in Korea of people breaking their teeth or dentures on ganjang-gejang.
  3. Garnish with chopped green onion, chopped red chili pepper or silgochu, and sesame seeds.
  4. Suck the crab flesh out of the legs, claws, and body.
  5. Put a few spoons of rice into the shell, and mix it up with the tomalley, roe and marinade in there. Eat it out of the shell with a spoon.
  6. Put some rice mixed with marinade on a sheet of roasted kim (seaweed paper), add some sliced cucumber (optional) and eat.

Enjoy the recipe!

ganjang-gejang

ganjang-gejang shell

ganjang-gejang with rice

Tips for making awesome ganjang-gejang:

  1. Buy live crabs and freeze them for 2 hours before you start. If you like roe, then be sure to buy female crabs during spawning season when they should have eggs. If you’re unsure of the season or the sex of the crab, ask your fishmonger before you buy them.
  2. If you don’t want to clean crabs, you can ask your fishmonger to do it for you, and then you don’t need to freeze them either.
  3. I sometimes find some worms inside the gills. The worms aren’t harmful, but nobody wants to eat worms in their sauce, which is why I remove the gills entirely.
  4. Korean people call this dish a “rice thief” (밥도둑: “bap-do-duk”) because it goes so well with rice that before you know it, all the rice will be gone from your bowl!
  5. After eating your ganjang-gejang you’ll probably have some leftover marinade at the bottom. Boil it, cool it down, and keep it in the fridge to use in stir-fried vegetables, or to simply mix with rice and wrap in kim for a quick snack or lunch.
  6. If you want to keep this for over a week, you’ll need to do a little work to safely preserve it. The crabs and the marinade need to be separated, and the crabs should be portioned into plastic bags and frozen. The marinade needs to be boiled again, cooled, and kept in the fridge. When you want to have some ganjang-gejang, take a portion out of the freezer, thaw it out in the fridge, put in onto a serving bowl or plate and add some marinade to it.

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41 Comments:

  1. Wendyhan0042 Singapore joined 6/17
    Posted June 18th, 2017 at 11:57 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi,
    May I know can I use Sri Lankan crabs instead. In Singapore , we hardly find blue crab and live flower crab . All flower crab are dead in the market ..

  2. sanne Munich joined 8/14
    Posted July 26th, 2016 at 3:35 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi,

    our fishmonger sells live crabs, but he has to kill them at the store because here in Germany, private people aren’t allowed to purchase them and kill them at home.
    I’d be back home after that within a half-hour, transporting them in a really good cooling-bag (lock&lock ;-)) and would even get some crushed ice to keep them fresh.
    If I’d prepare them when I get home – would that be okay, or would they still get soggy?

    Bye, Sanne.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted July 27th, 2016 at 7:43 am | # |

      “here in Germany, private people aren’t allowed to purchase them and kill them at home.” That’s so interesting! I had never heard about it before. I think the method of bringing the crabs home you described is pretty good and safe.

  3. qikhoo Malaysia joined 5/16
    Posted May 25th, 2016 at 10:59 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi,

    When I traveled Korea, I had eat this Ganjang-jejang in spicy type & non spispy, I love so much.
    May you have receipe for the spicy Ganjang-jejang?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted May 27th, 2016 at 3:50 pm | # |

      It’s one of my cookbook recipes. I will post the video recipe someday.

  4. Juggy joined 7/15
    Posted July 25th, 2015 at 4:41 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi.

    Thank you for the recipe and the video. I’m wondering if this preparation style works with prawns as well? Thanks. From Malaysia

  5. junkka South Korea joined 3/15
    Posted March 17th, 2015 at 12:51 am | # |

    I’m a Korean living in Korea, yet I often come to your website for recipes. It’s just so easy to follow and I can tell you put lot of consideration for cooking amateurs like me.

    Ganjang gejang is an all time favorite food by most Koreans, and yet it’s not an easy recipe. I took courage after reading your recipe and gave it a try. Hope the results look as good as yours.

    Thank you always :)

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted March 17th, 2015 at 9:19 am | # |

      I’m sure it turned out delicious. :)

  6. heinza austrlia joined 9/13
    Posted February 14th, 2015 at 11:46 pm | # |

    I just bought blue crabs but they were already dead.
    I cracked them open and they don’t look particularly fresh – kind of on the brownish side.
    Plus no roe – just a bit of yellow stuff in some of them.
    I’m still going to make the recipe, but I will put them in hot marinade so they will cook… aiguuuu :(
    Well, still better than getting sick!
    Will try raw when I find them alive..
    Thanks for the recipe. The marinade is boiling right now and a delicious smell is quickly filling up the house! I’m sure it’ll still be yummy even cooked..

  7. chieko abq joined 12/14
    Posted December 7th, 2014 at 10:03 pm | # |

    Those look amazing. I love blue crabs, I love raw seafood. Can’t wait to make some!
    Thanks for sharing!!!!

  8. Clara Singapore joined 9/14
    Posted September 28th, 2014 at 11:22 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi!
    I have a question about the types of crabs I can use..
    Do I have to use blue crabs or are there any other types of crabs that can be eaten raw?
    Haha it is pretty difficult (and quite impossible) find blue crabs in my country:( And quite frankly, IM DYING TO TRY THIS RECIPE.. It’s all your fault! It looks too deliciousXD

  9. xelloss1989 United States joined 1/13
    Posted August 21st, 2014 at 5:44 pm | # |

    maangchi I bought a dozen female crabs from chinatown but only some of them have eggs in it…. they are sitting in the sauce now but i am worried abt the taste…. will crabs without egg taste as good? how did you pick your crabs? any trusting place or method?

  10. CrazyC joined 3/10
    Posted August 6th, 2014 at 10:52 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi! My friend is pregnant and is craving this! Is it safe for pregnant women? She says it’s ok in Korea? What do you think?

  11. gelauck Boston, MA joined 5/14
    Posted May 12th, 2014 at 2:09 pm | # |

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I spend my summers catching blue crabs and they are very delicious. I give blue crab to the owner of a store near me. His wife uses them to make this dish and is always excited when I bring fresh crab. I am going to try this recipe!

    I have one piece of advice. I handle crab a lot. Instead of putting in the freezer for two hours, you can put them into ice water for 5 or 10 minutes. Just put your crab in a 5 gallon bucket and dump a bag of ice on them. After a few minutes they will slow down, add some water and wait another 5 or ten minutes and they will be totally lifeless. Then just take them out one at a time as you clean them.

    Thanks again for the recipe. I am excited to try it!

  12. Sour Grapes Melbourne joined 5/14
    Posted May 11th, 2014 at 9:04 am | # |

    Thank you for sharing this recipe, I’ve been dying to try ganjang gejang for years! It was just as delicious as I thought it would be and I ended up making another batch as soon as I finished eating the first one, lol. I wasn’t able to get any female crabs from the market due to fishing restrictions, but the male blue swimmer crabs here are quite nice and fat so I am not complaining.
    I bought four crabs and the total weight was 3 pounds, so each of my crabs was probably twice as large as the ones in the video =D. Big crabs are great as they are full of meat and are easier to eat, but they definitely take longer to marinate. I’ve tried eating my first crab after about 30 hours and it was raw and disgusting, I almost threw the whole batch out. Thank God I have decided against it, they were perfect after a couple more days in the fridge.
    I am bad at following exact recipes, so I’ve added a couple of cloves, Szechuan peppercorns and black peppercorns to the boiling broth and Mirin, Shiaoxing wine, sesame oil, raw chopped garlic and scallions after it was cooled. That was probably not authentic and generally unnecessary, but the taste was great. Can’t wait for my second batch two be ready for eating =)

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted May 11th, 2014 at 10:00 am | # |

      Thank you for sharing your experience about making good ganjang-gejang.

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