Vietnamese-Style Spicy Crab with Garlic Noodles

De Arbol (Capsicum Annuum) means tree like in Spanish. The plant has thick, upright, woody stems and the chile itself is narrow, curved and bright red in color. Believed to be closely related to the pequin, the De Arbol is thin fleshed, with tannic, smoky, grassy flavor and searing heat. This chile has a heat range of 7.5 on the heat scale of 1-10. De Arbol Chiles are comparable to a Cayenne Pepper. Scoville heat units 15,000 to 30,000.

Suggested Use:
De Arbol is a hot chile and a staple in Southwest kitchens. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish. Be adventurous and add them to your next stew or chili along with the other spices. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish.

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1 cup flour
1-1/2 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. salt
1-1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne
2 Dungeness crabs, cooked, cleaned, quartered, and cracked
vegetable oil for frying, plus 3 Tbsp.
10 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 pound spaghettini (thin spaghetti)
3 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
6 small dried red chiles (de arbols)
2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
4 green onions, chopped
4 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1/3 cup sake or other rice wine
1 cup basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves


Combine the flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper and the cayenne in a large bowl. Pat the crab pieces dry with paper towels and toss (in batches) in the flour mixture. Remove the crab pieces and shake off any excess flour. Set aside.

In a wok or large pot, heat 3″ of oil to 375F. Lay out the paper towels for draining the crab and garlic. Fry the crab pieces in batches (do not overcrowd the wok) until golden, about 5 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels.

Using the same hot oil, fry the garlic until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set the garlic aside and allow to cool. Discard the oil.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 Tbsp. of the salt and the spaghetti. Cook until tender to the bite, 5-10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl. Toss with butter and half of the fried garlic. Cover and put in a warm place.

Heat a wok or pot large enough to hold all the crab over high heat. Add the remaining 3 Tbsp. of oil, the dried chiles and ginger. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the green onions, serrano chiles, and remaining 1/2 tsp. of salt. Cook, stirring, until the onions wilt, about 1 minute. Add the sake and cook, stirring, until the sake reduces by about half. Stir in the crab and cover. Cook until crab heats through, about 3 minutes.

Remove the lid and cook, stirring, until any liquid evaporates. Stir in the basil, mint, cilantro and the remaining 1/2 tsp. of pepper. Cook, stirring, until the herbs have wilted. Stir in remaining fried garlic. Transfer the crab to a warm platter and serve hot, with garlic noodles.

Recipe from the December 2006 issue of Sunset Magazine.