Have you ever heard of soy sauce marinated crab?
This traditional Korean dish, also known as Gejang, is a national favorite that has been enjoyed for generations.
The dish is made by marinating fresh, fat, meaty crabs in a special mix of soy sauce, vegetables, and spices for several days until the crab soaks up the flavors and becomes savory and sweet.
When served with steamed white rice, the combination is so delicious that it’s been nicknamed the “rice thief” because you’ll end up eating tons of rice with it!
But what does soy sauce marinated crab actually taste like?
In this article, we’ll explore the flavors and textures of this beloved dish and give you a glimpse into why it’s so popular in Korea.
What Does Soy Sauce Marinated Crab Taste Like?
Soy sauce marinated crab has a unique flavor profile that is both savory and sweet. The soy sauce marinade gives the crab a rich umami flavor that is complemented by the sweetness of the crab meat.
The texture of the crab meat is tender and succulent, with a slightly chewy consistency that adds to the overall experience of eating this dish.
When mixed with steamed white rice, the flavors of the soy sauce and crab meld together to create a deliciously aromatic and satisfying meal.
One of the highlights of soy sauce marinated crab is the roe, which has a sweet and deep flavor that pairs perfectly with rice. When mixed together, the rice takes on a crabby taste that is simply irresistible.
It’s important to note that the quality of the soy sauce marinade is crucial to the overall taste of the dish. If not marinated well, the crab can have a strong fishy smell that can be off-putting.
The Origins Of Soy Sauce Marinated Crab
Soy sauce marinated crab, also known as ganjang gejang, is a traditional Korean dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. The dish originated in the coastal regions of Korea where fresh seafood was abundant. Fishermen would catch crabs and preserve them in soy sauce to preserve their freshness and enhance their flavor.
Over time, soy sauce marinated crab became a popular delicacy among the Korean aristocracy, who enjoyed its rich and complex flavors. It eventually spread to the general population and became a staple of Korean cuisine.
Today, soy sauce marinated crab is enjoyed throughout Korea and is considered one of the country’s most iconic dishes. It is typically served as a side dish or as a main course with rice and other banchan, or Korean side dishes.
The dish has also gained popularity outside of Korea, with many restaurants around the world offering their own take on this classic dish. Despite its global popularity, however, there’s nothing quite like enjoying a freshly made soy sauce marinated crab in Korea, where the dish has been perfected over generations.
The Preparation Process
To make soy sauce marinated crab, you will need a fresh, fat, meaty crab. It is recommended to use female crabs if you enjoy the roe, as they are likely to be carrying eggs that add flavor and creaminess to the dish.
The crab is first cleaned thoroughly by hand and then marinated in a special mix of soy sauce, vegetables, and spices that have been boiled together and cooled for 2-4 days. During this time, the crab soaks up the soy sauce and matures, becoming savory and sweet with a rich umami flavor.
Once the crab has been marinated, it is cut into bite-size pieces with a knife or scissors. The hard claw is crushed with the back of a knife to help extract the delicious meat without damaging your teeth.
To serve, the crab is garnished with chopped green onion, chopped red chili pepper or silgochu, and sesame seeds. The flesh can be sucked out of the legs, claws, and body. Alternatively, a few spoons of rice can be put into the shell with the tomalley, roe, and marinade in there. The mixture is then eaten out of the shell with a spoon.
For an extra twist, some rice mixed with marinade can be put on a sheet of roasted kim (seaweed paper) and topped with sliced cucumber before being enjoyed.
The Flavor Profile Of Soy Sauce Marinated Crab
The flavor profile of soy sauce marinated crab is complex and layered. The soy sauce marinade gives the crab a salty, savory taste that is enhanced by the addition of vegetables and spices. The sweetness of the crab meat adds a subtle sweetness to the dish, which is further accentuated by the addition of rice.
The umami flavor of the crab is what sets this dish apart from other seafood dishes. Umami is a Japanese term that refers to a savory taste that is often described as meaty or brothy. Soy sauce is rich in umami, which is why it is such a popular ingredient in Korean cuisine. When combined with the natural umami flavor of the crab, it creates a depth of flavor that is hard to replicate with other ingredients.
The texture of the crab meat is also an important part of its flavor profile. The tender and succulent meat has a slightly chewy consistency that adds to the overall experience of eating this dish. The roe, in particular, has a unique texture that adds a burst of flavor to each bite.
Pairing Soy Sauce Marinated Crab With Rice
Pairing soy sauce marinated crab with rice is a classic and traditional way of enjoying this Korean delicacy. The saltiness of the soy sauce marinade perfectly complements the sweetness of the crab meat, making it an ideal dish to be eaten with rice.
To enjoy this dish, first, break open the crab shell and remove the meat. Then, mix the crab meat with some steamed white rice and enjoy the explosion of flavors in your mouth.
For an added burst of flavor, mix in some of the roe and tomalley from the crab’s top shell with the rice. This paste-like mixture has a delicate sweetness that pairs well with the savory soy sauce marinade.
The combination of rice and soy sauce marinated crab is so addictive that it has earned the nickname “rice thief” in Korea. People eat bowls after bowls of rice with this dish because it is simply irresistible.
It’s important to note that when eating soy sauce marinated crab with rice, one should not break the shell. Instead, press the shell gently to release the soft, translucent flesh and suck out the remaining meat. This ensures that you get the full flavor experience of this delicacy.
Health Benefits Of Soy Sauce Marinated Crab
Apart from its delicious taste, soy sauce marinated crab also offers some health benefits. The low sodium soy sauce used in the marinade is a healthier alternative to regular soy sauce, which is high in sodium.
Crab meat is a good source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues in the body. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce inflammation and improve heart health.
The roe of the crab is a good source of Vitamin A, which is important for maintaining healthy vision and immune function. It also contains antioxidants that help to protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals.
Furthermore, crab meat is low in calories and fat, making it a great option for those who are watching their weight. It’s also a good source of minerals like zinc, copper, and selenium, which are important for maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
Where To Try Soy Sauce Marinated Crab.
If you’re looking to try soy sauce marinated crab, Seoul is the place to be. There are a number of Michelin-starred restaurants that offer their own unique take on this popular dish.
One such restaurant is located in the South Jeolla Province and offers both soy sauce marinated and spicy marinated crab dishes. The female blue crabs used in their dishes are caught locally and their specialty soy sauce is fermented with dried seafood and vegetables, adding to the umami flavor profile of the crabs.
Another great option is Jinmi Sikdang in the Mapo area of Seoul. This restaurant has long been known for its soy sauce marinated crab dish, which features a unique ingredient of characteristically spicy Cheongyang hot chili pepper. The crabs used in this dish are of premium quality and are supplied by the restaurant’s family-owned head branch in Taean.