Fresh Crab Congee

Fresh Crab Congee

Fresh Crab Congee

Soup Name

Fresh Crab Congee

Traditional Chinese Name:  

蟹粥 (xiè zhōu)


This crab congee is super easy to make! The key ingredient really is just the crab.  It’s a warming, traditional comfort food that can also be luxurious and delicious. If you get nice female crabs, the roe comes all out into the soup and really adds a special flavour.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 40 mins

Total time: 55 mins

Serves: 6 bowls


  • 2 cups of white rice

  • 10 cups of water (to start)

  • 6-7 dried scallops or conpoys

  • 7-8 slices of fresh chicken strips

  • 2 fresh female crabs, prepared and quartered

  • 1 tablespoon of preserved Chinese vegetables

  • fresh spring onions

Cooking Instructions

  1. Prepare the crab (see my post on fresh crab on preparation), cut into quarters and set aside
  2. Prepare the fresh chicken by cutting in thin strips
  3. Begin to boil your water and throw in the rice using high heat
  4. Stir every once in awhile to ensure that the congee doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot
  5. When the water boils, add in chicken strips, dried scallops (or conpoys)
  6. When the water boils again, throw in the prepared crab
  7. Continue to stir the congee occasionally and add one cup of boiling water as it thickens. How thin or thick is a personal preference, so you can add less or more water as you desire.
  8. Reduce heat to a medium simmer, cover the pot and let it continue to boil for another 30 minutes. Revisit the pot to stir it, ensuring you stir it right from the bottom.
  9. Add in the preserved Chinese vegetables and mix again.
  10. Let it boil for another 5 minutes.
  11. Serve and top with your favourite toppings such as fresh parsley, green onions, chives or any of the delicious preserved Chinese goodies like garlic, radish, baby cucumbers or pork floss

Here’s how I made it!

To start, you’ll need: 2 fresh live crabs, fresh chicken slices, ginger slices, fresh green onions, dried scallops, and preserved Chinese vegetables (as shown).

I’ve made this many times trying different types of crab.  The best and most flavourful crabs ideal for congee are smaller crabs that really aren’t as expensive (at around $70 HKD per crab). While they are smaller, the seem to seep a crab-y and seafood, ocean flavour into the congee, including the roe and cream of the crab into the soup.  I’ve also tried more expensive crab (at around $170 HKD per crab) which had more meat, but somehow, it was more just crab by itself and the congee by itself – the two never really blended.  But definitely explore yourself and see what works best for you and your family.

You can see my other post on how to prepare fresh crab. A few tips:

  • Using a big knife, chop off the sharp edges of the legs, shell, claws and any other sharp parts
  • Using also the back side of a big knife, create cracks in the legs and hard places (so that you can easily eat it out of the congee)
  • Do not throw away any of the eggs, roe, or cream (found at the head primarily) – the Chinese call these the best parts!
  • Buy female crabs

Slice the fresh chicken into thin strips. How much you use is really up to you. Since I like my protein, I tend to add more protein everywhere I go! The dried scallops can also be rinsed under warm water ahead of use. And take a few slices of fresh ginger. I tend to keep the pieces quite large so that I can isolate them in the congee and not scoop them out. I also don’t use a lot as I am not a fan of ginger and neither are the children, but you do need a little bit to eliminate any fishy taste in the congee, although I find the crab doesn’t really emit this. 

Start boiling your congee water (the bigger the pot, the better!) it’s easier to add more hot water than let it reduce to the appropriate amount. I’ll throw in the rice right away and wait until the water boils. Once it boils, I will add in the chicken, scallops, and ginger.

    Once that boils, then feel free to add in the prepared crab. Be sure to stir this pretty often to ensure that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.  This will also help keep the heat even throughout the pot as it might be quite crowded with all the stuff inside.

    Boil this on medium heat for another 30 minutes.  The rice will thicken and you can add a cup of boiling water (or really hot water from the nice Chinese hot water boilers) to thin it out.  How thick you’d like your soup is completely up to personal preference. I like my congee a bit thinner, with more liquid, but this is up to you.

    When it’s almost done (with about another 5 minutes until serving), throw in a handful of preserved Chinese vegetables.  I use a very specific one that comes in a ceramic pot and is called “dong choy”.  It’s very salty, so use with caution. I don’t add any additional salt after that.

      When ready, serve and enjoy! I also top with chives or parsley or fresh green onions.  There’s also some other cool Chinese condiments that go with congee, such as preserved baby cucumbers, radish, onions, shallots, dried pork floss, or vinegar soaked garlic.


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        Fresh Crab

        Fresh Crab

        Fresh Crab

        Ingredient Name:  Fresh Crab

        Traditional Chinese Name: 蟹 (xiè)

        What is this?

        • The crab is a crustacean with a short tail and typically two large claws and multiple legs
        • Crabs often have hard shells, but there are species of soft-shelled crabs
        • The most edible types of crabs include: flower crabs, snow crabs , blue crabs, edible or brown crabs , Dungeness crab, and mud crabs
        • Crabs primarily come from the ocean, but there are crabs that are extracted from fresh water (most popular in Asia is the Shanghainese Hairy Crabs available around Oct – Nov of every year)
        • Crabs are used in various dishes across Chinese dishes such as stir-fried, with noodles, steamed, in congee, or in soup.

        How do I prepare it?

        • The Chinese way is to peel off the shell (as quickly as possible) and then chop the crab down the middle in half ensuring it’s completely dead
        • Also remove the gills and brain (would recommend you google where these parts are) and then quarter them for congee. Don’t throw anything else – especially the jiggly, yellow, green, or orange “cream” – this is the best part and comes out into whatever dish you are making
        • You can rinse in warm running water if you’d like
        • Another way to prepare crab is to simply steam them in boiling water – or drop them in a pot of boiling water. This is if you want to eat the crabs as is.

        Where can I buy this?

        • In Asia, especially in Hong Kong, the best and freshest crabs come from the wet marts (or supermarkets)
        • Be sure to buy the crabs that are moving and whole
        • If they are tied up, press right between their eyes and there should be movement, indicating they are still alive
        • You can keep them alive in water at home until you’re ready to cook them (or in the fridge)

        What is the cost?

        • This really depends on the breed, size, location, and season
        • When I bought mine around Autumn, with a nice fresh water crab, they cost $100 HKD each (and not very large)

        Any benefits?

        • Crab meat is extremely low in fat and high in protein
        • Crabs are rich in chromium, which helps insulin to metabolize sugar, and thereby lowers the blood glucose levels in the body
        • Crabs have a healthy dose of antioxidants, which help help kill free radicals in the body (free radicals are what make you age)
        • Excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids

        Any precautions?

        • The cream of the crab is extremely high in cholesterol and should be avoided by those who need to watch their intake
        • Don’t overcook the crab meat, this will destroy a lot of the vitamins and minerals contained within the meat
        • Be careful of the claws and potentially sharp points in the legs and head
        • When serving children, be sure to fully check for any sharp parts of the crab, especially if you’re making soup or congee, the parts of the crab will dissintegrate


        Fresh crab (ready for congee)

        Fresh crab (ready for congee)