Well over 15 years ago when I was still living in LA, my family and I took a trip to San Francisco to visit my sister. Somehow or another we ended up at Thanh Long to try their infamous Roasted Garlic Crab…..and that was it for me. I was in “garlicky-finger licking-good” love.
I am fully aware that I’m not the only one. With throngs of followers, Thanh Long and their other Crustacean locations have been wooing people for over 3 decades with their roasted garlic crab, prawns, garlic noodles and even their shaking beef. Top that off with the knowledge of their “secret kitchen” (an enclosed area within the main kitchen that is off limits to all employees except An Family members) and who can resist?
But here’s the thing. A dinner for two will easily set you back 100 bucks–and that’s playing it minimal. And with the tough economy and this gal’s expensive food habits, I had to take matters into my own hands. Yes….I’m talking about a Roasted Garlic Dungeness Crab knock-off was in order…..fully equipped with Garlic Noodles. The method below is an adaptation of how my family prepares Cua Rang Me (Crab with Tamarind Sauce). However, with that particular preparation, I like to take the tamales from the crab and incorporate it into the sauce. So good.
Sure, I am well aware that I may be totally off base with this Garlic Crab –probably missing several key ingredients from the original. But since the chances of me getting into the An Family Secret Kitchen are slim to none—this will have to do. And “do”, it sure did! Utterly garlicky, buttery, decadent and fairly easy too. And at a fraction of the cost (dinner for two was way under $20), our bellies were completely happy with moola still left in our pockets.
And that dear friends, is a “Nguyen-Win Situation“.
Roasted Garlic Dungeness Crab with Garlic Noodles
Roasted Garlic Dungeness Crab (Serves 2)
¼ Cup Fresh Garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons Shallots, minced
1 Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
½ Tablespoon Cracked Black Pepper
8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Fresh Dungeness Crab, about 2-3 pounds
Lemon Wedges and Chopped Scallions, optional
Garlic Noodles (Serves 6)
1 Pound Chow Mein Noodles*
2 Tablespoons Fresh Garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1-2 Tablespoons Maggi Seasoning*
½ Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Crab: Carefully clean the live Dungeness Crab. Drop into a large pot of salted boiling water. Par cook for 5-6 minutes. Remove from the pot and let cool. Once the crab has cooled enough to handle, remove the top shell and quarter the body. Using a kitchen mallet, crack the legs and claws but do not remove the meat.
In a dutch oven, heat up the butter and olive oil. Once the butter has almost melted, add the garlic and shallots. Lightly sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add sugar, chili flakes, fish sauce, and black pepper and cook for an additional minutes. Add the crab to the pot and stir well so that the crab is fully covered with the mixture. Cook on medium heat for an additional 2 minutes. Shake the pot to even the crab into one layer and place in the oven on 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until crab is completely cooked. Be careful not to overcook or the crab meat will be very dry. Transfer to serving platter. Sprinkle scallions on top of the crab.
Noodles: Cook the noodles according to the direction on the package. Drain the noodles, reserving a few tablespoons of the starchy water. In a large sauté pan, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic but not browned, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add the sugar and Maggi. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly toss the noodles into the mixture. Add the cheese and toss the noodles ensuring that it is thoroughly covered. You may add a tablespoon of the pasta water as needed to loosen the pasta.
The noodles can be boiled before preparing the crab. However, I highly suggest waiting until the crab is roasting in the oven before staring the final steps of the garlic noodles.
Serve both the Garlic Noodles and Crab warm with lemon wedges.
*This recipe has been edited since its initial post. I now use chow mein noodles but in a pinch, you could substitute with spaghetti or linguine noodles.
**You will find that I use a lot of Maggi Seasoning in my recipes. Growing up, my family used it in lieu of traditional Soy Sauce. In fact, we grew up calling Maggi “Xì dầu” (soy sauce), although it technically is not and has a unique flavor of its own. If you don’t have Maggi on hand–run out and buy some! But in the mean time, you can substitute with a light soy sauce–though I must reiterate that the flavor will not be the same.