Steamed Crab over Glutinous Rice 籠仔蒸蟹飯

how to make steamed crab with sticky rice in lotus leaves
This traditional Cantonese style Steamed Crab over Glutinous (Sticky) Rice 籠仔蒸蟹飯 is a seafood lover’s paradise

We are officially in the home stretch now before the Luna New Year Starts on this Sat, January 28th and I’ve got a very special and authentic recipe for you to use.

But first, let’s talk a little bit more about Chinese New Year (aka CNY).

While the Chinese New Year Eve feast is undeniably the main attraction for many, the celebration typically extends to the Lantern Festival on the 15th of the Lunar New Year (Feb 11th).

So basic you still have plenty of time and reason to master a few authentic Chinese recipes.

What’s better? I’ve got a whole book just on Chinese New Year (CNY) recipes and it’s competently FREE of charge!

So if you haven’t done so, make sure you grab a copy the FREE Chinese New Year Cookbook now to get more inspirations.
how to make steamed crab with sticky rice in lotus leaves
And if you are looking to celebrate Chinese New Year in a more traditional way, here’s an awesome article from Chinahighlights on what else people do during CNY

Now let’s talk about today’s Steamed Crab over Glutinous Rice dish or 籠仔蒸蟹飯 in Chinese

For all you Cantonese food lovers, this dish is as Cantonese as you can get because it encompasses all the hallmarks of Cantonese cooking :

  • Live seafood? Check.
  • Lightly flavored? Check.
  • Good for sharing? Check.
  • Simple to prepare? Check (only if you read the rest of the recipe).

The point is that this is a traditional dish you’ll only find in your authentic Cantonese restaurants but not the Shanghainese restaurant down the block.In fact, the first time I had this dish was at a Cantonese joint here in NYC.

Still remember how bewildered I was when this steamer-full of crab heaven steamed over rice and lotus leaves landed on our table. As I sank my teeth into that sweet tender crab meat, it was probably the freshest crab I had ever had! And the rice underneath the crab is always the best part. The rice soaked up all the crab juice and crab butter and the aroma of lotus leaves. It was just absolutely delicious!
how to make steamed crab with sticky rice in lotus leaves
Anyway, if you wanted to prepare crab for this Chinese New Year, this steamed crab dish will fit the bill perfectly!

YouTube Video

Please also check out the  video recipe on YouTube. Please take a minute to subscribe to my video channel if you enjoy this video. You can also play the video right here:

Import Notes on the recipe

This recipe is not super hard to make per se but it does require a few items that are harder to come by.

  • First of all, a larger bamboo steamer is used to cook the food traditional. If you don’t have one, make sure your steamer is large enough to hold a big crab and rice.
  • Commonly. lotus leaves are used to line the steamer. They not only add refreshing aroma to the food but also prevent the rice from sticking to the steamer. Unfortunately, the day I was making this dish, I couldn’t find lotus leaves in my nearby Chinese grocery stores, so I decided to use bamboo leaves instead. If you can score some dried lotus leaves, use them for sure.
  • In this recipe, I use live dungeness crab as that’s the kind of crab commonly used here. If other saltwater crab is available in your area, you are free to use instead. If you absolutely can’t find live crab, you can substitute with uncooked frozen crab but the flavor will be compromised a little bit.
  • Lastly, if you do manage to get a live crab, be sure to clean and process per the recipe. It’s a little daunting but it should be manageable with my step-by-step instruction on how to process a live crab.

Step-by-step recipe

Cantonese Steamed Crab over Glutinous Rice

Yield: 4 Servings

Prep Time:30 mins

Cook Time:60 mins

Total Time:90 mins

Ingredients:

  • 2lb - 2.5lb live Dungeness Crab or other saltwater crab available to you
  • 3 cups glutinous rice (aka sticky rice)
  • 6-8 bamboo leaves (use 1-2 lotus leaves if available)

Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar

Directions:

On the night before cooking, soak 3 cups of glutinous rice in 3 cups of cold water.cantonese steamed crab over glutinous (sticky) ricePrepare the lotus leaves. I couldn't find lotus leaves while I was preparing this dish so I used bamboo leaves instead. First, soak the bamboo leaves in a baking tray with cold water until leaves are flexible to bend (about 30 minutes).cantonese steamed crab over glutinous (sticky) riceBoil a pot of water in the largest pot you have. Transferred the leaves to the pot and soak/cook until the leaves a completely hy-drated and soft. About 30 minutes. Transfer the leaves out and set aside.cantonese steamed crab over glutinous (sticky) riceRinse the soaked glutinous rice several times in cold water. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Add 1tbsp of cooking oil and mix well. Steam the rice for 30 minutes.cantonese steamed crab over glutinous (sticky) riceLeave the live crab in the fridge overnight or freezer for 10 minutes to it's sedated. While the rice the steaming, clean the live crab with a brush under running cold water.cantonese steamed crab over glutinous (sticky) riceFollow this instruction to open and clean the crab internally. And chop the leg section of the crab into 4-6 pieces. Keep the crab shell whole and make sure you keep the crab butter.cantonese steamed crab over glutinous (sticky) riceTo make the dipping sauce, heat up 3tbsp of oil. Add chopped scallion in a heat-proof bowl and splash the hot oil on the scallion. Add sugar and soy sauce. Mix well by stirring.cantonese steamed crab over glutinous (sticky) riceOnce the glutinous rice is done steaming. Let it cool to touch.Cover a large bamboo steamer with lotus leaves (or bamboo leaves in my case). Make sure the entire steamer is covered.cantonese steamed crab over glutinous (sticky) riceTransfer the glutinous rice to the steamer and carefully spread the rice evenly.cantonese steamed crab over glutinous (sticky) ricePlace the chopped crab on top of the rice. Try to arrange it nicely.cantonese steamed crab over glutinous (sticky) riceSteam over high heat for 14-16 minutes depending on the size of your crab.cantonese steamed crab over glutinous (sticky) riceTurn off the heat and serve the crab and rice from the steamer and with the dipping sauce on the side.  
This recipe is not super hard to make per se but it does require a few items that are harder to come by:
  • A larger bamboo steamer is used to cook the food traditional. If you don't have one, make sure your steamer is large enough to hold a big crab and rice.
  • Commonly. lotus leaves are used to line the steamer. They not only add refreshing aroma to the food but also prevent the rice from sticking to the steamer. Unfortunately, the day I was making this dish, I couldn't find lotus leaves in my nearby Chinese grocery stores, so I decided to use bamboo leaves instead. If you can score some dried lotus leaves, use them for sure.
  • In this recipe, I use live dungeness crab as that's the kind of crab commonly used here. If other saltwater crab is available in your area, you are free to use instead. If you absolutely can't find live crab, you can substitute with uncooked frozen crab but the flavor will be compromised a little bit.
  • Lastly, if you do manage to get a live crab, be sure to clean and process per the recipe. It's a little daunting but it should be manageable with my step-by-step instruction on how to process a live crab.
how to make steamed crab with sticky rice in lotus leaves

Are you planning on cooking for Lunar New Year? Share your plan with me in the comment area!
how to make steamed crab with sticky rice in lotus leaves

10 comments

  1. 5

    Hi Yi, happy chinese new year!  always looking  at your beautiful and inspiring blog with pleasure. Greetings from Venice.

  2. 4

    I remember when I was in Taiwan… THEY WERE OBSESSED with Glutinous rice!

  3. 3

    Yum! We had so many crabs lately, but I have never had it with sticky rice…which I love…thanks for the recipe Yi…
    Hope you are enjoying your week 🙂

  4. 2

    If you only knew how much I LOVE crab!! You wouldn’t be teasing me like this. 🙂 Awesome dish!

  5. 1

    Love crab — any variety. This looks like a great way to eat it. Well, until softshells are in season. 🙂 Really nice — thanks.

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