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. : )
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.
- 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
- chopped green onion
- dried shredded red pepper (silgochu) or chopped red chili pepper
- toasted sesame seeds
Serve with rice.
- Freeze crabs for 2 hours to put them to sleep.
- 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.
- Turn down the heat to low and keep boiling the marinade for another hour.
- Let the marinade cool down a little bit, strain it, and then let it cool down thoroughly. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
How to eat:
- Serve with rice.
- 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.
- Garnish with chopped green onion, chopped red chili pepper or silgochu, and sesame seeds.
- Suck the crab flesh out of the legs, claws, and body.
- 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.
- Put some rice mixed with marinade on a sheet of roasted kim (seaweed paper), add some sliced cucumber (optional) and eat.
Enjoy the recipe!
Tips for making awesome ganjang-gejang:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.