Spicy Blue Crab Stew

Koatgaetang is a hot spicy crab stew that is unforgettably refreshing in taste.  Boiled with gochujang (red chili pepper paste), gochugaru (red chili pepper flakes) and various vegetables, this stew is very popular for all spicy food lovers. As its main ingredient, blue crabs are boiled with various vegetables such as chrysanthemum, green onion, radish, chilies, garlic and some times, fresh pumpkin leaves and dwenjang to enhance the main flavoring ingredient of this dish which is gochujang.  In addition, other seafood such as clams and shrimps can be added to this stew to compliment with its spicy crabs. 

What's great about this stew is that frozen crabs, which its flesh is slightly flakier than that of fresh ones, work extremely well.  Other crabs that can be used as an alternative to blue crabs are snow and king crabs.

Cooking Tip: During summer, female crabs tend to be more expensive than male crabs because of their yellow mustard and eggs. Female crabs can be easily distinguished by their visible white "apron" displayed on their belly side. However, male crabs in the fall, tends to be meatier.  At the fish market, the extra-fresh crabs look vivid, lively and ocean-clean fresh. Most crabs with broken limbs are a sign of low quality, so steer away from them. Lastly, crabs are extremely perishable and prone to bacterial contamination so be sure to buy only intact, live ones.


Recipe Ingredients: Yields 3-4 Servings

  • 3-4 medium to large blue crabs (fresh or thawed)
  • 6 cups water
  • ¼ small radish
  • 1 small strip of sea kelp or dasima
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 small onion (sliced)
  • 6 green and red chili peppers (sliced)
  • 2 stems green onion (3-4 cm strips)
  • 5 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp gochugaru, red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp gochujang, red chili pepper paste
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
  • Dash black pepper
  • Chrysanthemum leaves
  • Fresh pumpkin leaves (optional)
  • 1 tbsp soy bean paste (optional)
Cooking Directions
  1. To make a broth, add sea kelp, radish and soy sauce in six cups of water in a large pot.
  2. Scrub crabs and cut into pieces. Cut off the mouth, gills and the end tips of legs and claws with scissors.
  3. When the stock boils, add gochugaru, gochugaru, garlic and if desired, soy bean paste.
  4. Add the crabs and cook for 10 minutes with the cover closed.
  5. Add zucchini and onion, and cook for an additional 10 minutes, carefully monitoring the crab.
  6. When all shells turn bright orange, add green onion, green and red chili peppers, pumpkin leaves, sesame seeds and black pepper.
  7. Chrysanthemum leaves requires minimal cooking, so add this at the very end.
  8. Serve with white rice.