Sunday, January 23, 2011

Trader Vic's Crab Chinese Style

Catagory: Main Dishes
Difficulty: Easy
Somewhat Healthy

"Trader" Victor Bergeron was a very talented artist and sculptor as well as restaurateur. He was also quite a character! A jovial and fun-loving man, he apparently swore quite lustily and was among the first to call the snobbish pairing of certain wines with certain foods "a pile of junk". He also was outrageous enough to call traditional French cookery "archaic". Oddly enough, however, his culinary skill was learned from his French mother with whom he cooked as a "petite garcon".

In case you didn't know, "the Trader" used his abundant culinary and business skills to open a fine restaurant called "Trader Vic's", originally located in Oakland. That's where he met my grandfather,Fletcher B. Taylor, who became his physician.My mom tells me about the time when as teenagers, she and her sister accompanied my grandmother to have lunch with Trader Vic at his tropically-inspired restaurant. Mom says he was VERY nice, which means he behaved himself that day and didn't swear every other word in front of ladies.  Here's one one of his easiest recipes in his own words...

Cracked Crab, Chinese Style

"Take a couple of freshly cooked (still hot) and cleaned Dungeness crabs. Crack them: crack all the claws and make each belly part into about 6 pieces. Take the crab backs and scoop out all the butter--the fat yellow stuff clinging to the shell; reserve that. In a big pot, melt 1/2 cup butter. Stir in the crab, butter, dry French vermouth (about 6 tablespoons), 2 big cloves of mashed garlic and salt (about 1/2 t.), pepper (about 1/4 t. freshly ground) and Worcestershire (about 1/2 T.) to taste. Heat and stir that all together. Then put in the crab, and mix it around and keep turning it around in the sauce until it is hot. Heat it up well.
That's it. Eat it with your fingers. and that's the best thing you've ever put into your cotton pickin' mouth". If you want more sauce, double the butter, vermouth, and seasonings. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

NOTE: I would definitely double the sauce recipe! And serve with warm, fresh sourdough French Bread and butter--to rip and devour!


  1. Never had it, but it sounds awesome and pretty easy to make! Any idea whether they offer it on their menu these days?

  2. FYI, found an brief bio of Vic at the restaurant website - apparently he invented the Mai Tai!

  3. RE Mai-Tais: Yup he did! And I have the original recipe! He was rawther involved with alchohol, I think he may have been an alkie! Gaga had the original book of his, er cocktail creations, so I USED to have the Big Opu--but lost it. Re the crab recipe--you probably know more than I do after looking at the site! I do have the Bongo Bongo soup recipe and his "crepes" which I will publish later on...