Cua Hap Bia (Vietnamese Steamed Blue Crabs in Beer)

By : | 0 Comments | On : June 27, 2012 | Category : Seafood



Sunday night we passed the seafood section at H-Mart they wheeled out the container of live blue crabs! They were too fresh to pass up, so Toan and I made a last minute decision to make it for dinner.  Blue crabs always brings back fond memories from my childhood.  I loved going to the store with my gma and mom.  They would let me pick out the crabs which was an adventure all on its own.  Tonight we saw kids watching us with excitement as we struggled to pull the crabs apart.  They were so strong and honestly I was scared one would pop out of my tongs and snap onto my fingers.  Thankfully, we made it home with no casualties.

I know it seems like a lot of work for such little meat, but when you get the hang of it…. it’s so satisfying.  Plus, the time it takes to finish your meal is spent sharing stories and many laughs along the way.  Tonight we did not want anything too fancy, we just ate it with a bowl of steamed rice and dipped it in the Vietnamese Dipping Nuoc Mam Ot  which we always keep a batch on hand.


Serves 2


  • 6 blue crabs
  • 4 beers
  • 10-15 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup sliced ginger – you will not need to spoon off the ginger skin as this only flavors the steam water
  • 3 teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 1 lime – just the juice
  • 4 chopped chili peppers (optional)
  • Cucumber (optional) – serve as an accompaniment
  • Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Mam Ot) – pre make this; click for recipe
  • Large Steamer Pot (pictured below); I bought this from a local Vietnamese Market.  It has 3 layers (1 for the water/broth, the other two for your food.  This is a medium size, so each layer holds about 3 crabs nicely)
  1. Prepare your sliced ginger and minced garlic.
  2. Give your live blue crabs an ice bath.  This will calm them down so they are easier to handle
  3. Set the bottom layer of your steam pot on the stove.  Pour in 4 beers.
  4. Add the ginger, garlic, salt, lime juice and peppers.
  5. Set the pot to a boil.
  6. Once the broth is boiling, add 3 crabs to each layer and put the lid on.
  7. Steam the crab on medium high for 8-10 minutes.
  8. Serve with the Nuoc Mam Ot and steamed rice.
  9. Accompany with sliced cucumber (optional) and of course a beer!




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