What's the hype? All about Korean soy crab
Sep 27, 2023
What is the most consumed crab in the world? Is it lobster, king crab, or dungeon crab? No, they're all wrong. The Kkotge crab (aka. Asian horse crab or Japanese blue crab) is the most widely caught and consumed crab worldwide, and I believe South Korea likely has the highest per capita crab consumption. While king crabs and lobsters are delicious, and dungeon crabs are too, the sweet and tender flesh of the kkotge crab is unforgettable.
Korea, surrounded by the sea on three sides, is famous for its diverse seafood cuisine, and among them, crab dishes hold a special place. Soy-marinated crab, known as ganjang gejang, is one of the classic Korean dishes and is commonly enjoyed with rice. In this blog post, we will explore the Korean history and culture of crab dishes, the process of making them, and how to find the best kkotge crabs.
1.History and Culture of Soy Crab
The origin of crab dishes dates back to the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), making it a traditional cuisine enjoyed for at least several centuries. References to crab dishes can be found in many ancient Korean texts from that era. Initially, it was considered a humble meal, often prepared by fishermen to preserve crabs during long sea voyages. However, over time, crab dishes evolved into a cherished delicacy on every Korean dining table. There are two main types of crab dishes: ganjang gejang (soy crab), a traditional method that involves marinating crabs in soy sauce, and yangnyum gejang (spicy marinated crab), a style that emerged rather recently after the Korean War. These various crab dishes reflect the unique characteristics and regional specialties of Korea, carrying the history and culture of this cuisine.
2. What’s the Best Kkotge for Soy Crab?
To make delicious soy-marinated crab, using high-quality kkotge crabs is crucial. In the United States, many Asian food enthusiasts and restaurants commonly use "blue crab" to make soy crab dishes in the absence of Korean kkotge. However, blue crabs are not suitable for making soy crab dishes compared to Korean kkotge crabs because blue crabs have less meat, tougher shells, and sharper edges, making them less ideal for this purpose.
The highlight of ganjang gejang is undoubtedly the rich roe and tender meat. This is why the plump, egg-bearing female kkotge crabs from the west coast of Korea, caught in spring, are considered the highest quality. These crabs, which spend most of their lives hidden in the deep sea and emerge in the warm spring to prepare for spawning and engage in extensive feeding activities, are the reason why kkotge crabs caught in spring are considered the best.
As Koreans are passionate about crab dishes, there are also common misconceptions, such as the belief that "northern crabs are larger because kkotge crabs hatch on Jeju Island and travel north to Yeonpyeong Island as they grow." This is not true. Crabs don't hatch exclusively on Jeju Island, nor do their migration ranges extend far from Jeju Island to Yeonpyeong Island.
On the other hand, the most valuable and highly priced crabs in Korea are from Gunsan. The warm marine environment in Gunsan allows crabs to thrive. The rich nutrients and minerals flowing through the Keumgang River, provided by the richest crop fields in Korea, into the West Sea provide an ideal breeding and feeding ground for crabs. In crab auctions, even C-grade Gunsan crabs can fetch prices similar to A-grade crabs from other regions, highlighting the high demand for Gunsan's kkotge crabs. Kevin's Choice's Jjebo gangjang gejang is made with only the best quality female kkotge crabs caught in the spring from the waters near Gunsan for its delicious soy-marinated crab dishes.
3. War to Secure Spring Kkotge
Every May, large crab restaurants across the country engage in a fierce battle at crab auctions. This is because they need to secure a limited supply of top-quality kkotge crabs. These specialized restaurants and establishments purchase premium crabs in May and, in most cases, invest millions to billions of won to secure the best crabs for making the finest ganjang gejang. As a result, it's not easy for regular consumers or small businesses to access top-quality kkotge crabs. To find the best kkotge crab dishes in Korea, it is recommended to visit specialized restaurants. These restaurants purchase crabs in bulk and store them in freezers, allowing them to offer high-quality crabs at an affordable price. In the case of ganjang gejang, even freshly caught crabs in May require freezing to prevent the meat from dissolving in soy sauce. In other words, specialized restaurants offer the finest ganjang gejang made from May-captured crabs year-round. Kevin's Choice Jjebosikdang is a specialized restaurant known for its ganjang gejang, and it is one of the most beloved places for this delectable dish, using only the highest-quality crabs year after year.
4. The Process of Making Crab Dishes
If you have high-quality kkotge crabs, you can easily make delicious crab dishes with the right seasoning. The process of preparing the seasoning for ganjang gejang involves boiling soy sauce and letting it cool. Then, this soy sauce is poured over frozen crabs, and the crabs are left to mature in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 days until the soy sauce permeates the crab meat. Various ingredients such as onions, apples, jujubes, green onions, garlic, chili peppers, and ginger are used when crafting the special soy sauce. This special soy marinade is the result of our Jjebo's expertise, enhancing the rich flavor and umami.
Known as a "rice thief" in Korea, crab dishes are loved by many people. Experience the best crab dishes by ordering from Kevin's Choice.