Korean Food: Gejang (Marinated Raw Crabs)


Gejang is a dish of salted fermented fresh raw crabs marinated in soy sauce (ganjang gejang) or a sweet and spicy chili pepper sauce (yangnyeom gejang). In Korea, “ge” means crab while “jang” means condiment. Originally, gejang was made using freshwater crabs. As these crabs have become more rare, the dish today is often made using kkotge (horse crab) from the Yellow Sea, also known as the West Sea.


Written records of gejang are mentioned in many books including Sallim Gyeongje (written by Hong Man-seon around 1800), Gyuhap chongseo (written by Lady Bingheogak Yi in 1809), Siuijeonseo (from the late 19th century by an unknown author), and other works during the late Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). In these books, gejang was known as johaebeop, which involved marinating in a type of liquor. This method helped preserve the dish for long periods of time.

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Ganjang gejang is prepared by first cleaning the raw crabs in a bowl of water and then rinsing them off. The crabs are then salted and then places in a pot for about five to six hours. After, the crabs are removed from the pot and placed in a bowl where they are covered in a briefly boiled sauce of ganjang (soy sauce), sesame oil, sugar, garlic, ginger, red chili pepper, and scallions. After an hour, the sauce is removed from the bowl, briefly boiled again, and added to the crabs. This process is often done three to four more times. The dish can be consumed up to two weeks after being prepared.


Yangnyeom gejang is made using clean raw crabs. The crabs are then added to a sweet but spicy chill powder that is made into a sauce adding Korean pears, onions, garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds and oil. After being prepared, it is best to consume the dishes within a few days.

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