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Drunken White Jade Crab: A Delicious Delight that Su Dongpo Also Fell in Love With

My hometown has a type of crab called "Pengyue Crab". Since I was young, I have been curious about why most other crabs are named like this: Hairy Crab, Stone Crab, Mitten Crab, Monk Crab, White Crab... It's not difficult to imagine the appearance of crabs from their names. Only Pengyue Crab is unpredictable.


What historical allusions does this awkwardly named crab hide?

It is said that Liu Bang, the Han Dynasty's founding emperor, learned that two of his generals, Peng Yue and Ying Bu, had intentions of rebellion after he unified the country.

To intimidate Ying Bu, Liu Bang designed the killing of Peng Yue and turned his flesh into preserved meat. At a banquet, Liu Bang intentionally gave this preserved meat to Ying Bu and told him it was Peng Yue's flesh.

Upon hearing this, Ying Bu was greatly shocked and disgusted, and he immediately left and vomited.

The food residue vomited by Ying Bu fell into the water and transformed into small crabs, which people then called "Pengyue Crabs".

There is another saying that in the Ningbo dialect, Pengyue sounds like "friend". So, the food served to friends is naturally called "Friend Crab". Alternatively, this crab has one large claw and one small claw, often in a hugging posture resembling the moon. In the local dialect, the pronunciation of "hugging" sounds like "holding the moon", implying that the small crabs come to hold the moon, seeking good luck. This explanation is also elegant.

Pengyue Crab also has a beautiful alias called "White Jade Crab". This name is good, unlike its scientific name, which looks like a spider and is not appetizing.

The White Jade Crab in my hometown, with its unique flavor and delicate texture, has become a delicious dish for those with poor appetite.


This small and exquisite crab not only awakens the taste buds but also adds a touch of brightness to the dining table. It is the perfect choice for people seeking culinary comfort.

White Jade Crab belongs to the marine crab family and is not available all year round. It is most plump during the golden autumn season. It can be found in the vicinity of the seashore, where the sea and rivers converge, and in reed marshes. They usually hide in their burrows and come out to forage during low tide, staying hidden during the day and active at night.

When catching crabs, a bright light shines on them, and they become motionless as if acupoints were pressed. They are then clamped with tongs and put into a bucket. Those skilled in this process can catch a basin of crabs in an hour.

People in Ningbo like to marinate White Jade Crabs with salt and wine.

Peng Yue, with one large claw and one small claw, uses the large claw to fight the small claw for food. I think that although Pengyue Crabs are small, marinating them with salt and wine makes them different from ordinary crabs. They are called White Jade Crabs because after being marinated with salt and wine, the crab meat becomes as white as jade and exceptionally delicious, making it a top-grade dish to accompany rice. - "Zhizheng Xuzhi"

There are two common methods for cooking at home. The White Jade Crabs bought from the market are soaked in water for half a day. They are then salted until almost dead and poured into high-quality white wine, completely submerging them. Depending on personal taste, ginger, garlic, fragrant leaves, and white sugar are added. Every hour, they are turned over. They are then placed in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, they are served with rice, even if there is no appetite, one can still eat and sweat profusely.


Another method is to put the well-soaked and cleaned White Jade Crabs into a prepared container, pour in Huadiao wine, and add delicious seasonings such as ginger, garlic, and sugar. They are then placed in the refrigerator to soak overnight. The next day, they are served with rice, and they are irresistible.

After being marinated with salt and wine, the crab meat becomes as white as jade and exceptionally delicious. White Jade Crabs have small bodies, little meat, and hard shells. Usually, one bite is one crab. The sound of cracking shells and the strong taste of the sea stimulate the appetite. Combined with the unique salty and alcoholic flavor of marinated food, it is irresistible.

When opening the crab shell, extend the tongue into the shell, stir and suck. The crab roe bursts with an extremely delicious taste in the mouth. The meat of the two large claws is plump, and the fresh and sweet crab meat dances on the tip of the tongue, leaving a lingering aftertaste.

Every bite is satisfying, and one can't help but want another one.


It is good to eat with rice, but it is even better with wine!

It is said that after Su Dongpo tasted this drunken White Jade Crab, he had deep feelings and wrote: "Although Pengyue Crabs are small, marinating them with salt and wine makes them different from ordinary crabs. Salted and wine-soaked, the fragrance permeates the bones, and the jade-colored intoxication brings joy."

Drunken White Jade Crab, whether with rice or wine, is a must-have dish for both home and restaurants.

White Jade Crabs can also be deep-fried or stir-fried. I have only tried it once. White Jade Crabs have little meat, and besides marinating them alive to ensure the best texture, other cooking methods may only provide a taste of freshness.

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