“Three-spoon vinegar” or sanbaizu is a versatile Japanese dipping sauce named after the method of using a spoon three times – once for vinegar, once for sugar and once for soy sauce. It’s a simple and perfect accompaniment to Hokkaido’s famous king crabs. You will need some greenery, such as bamboo leaves or rush matting, to plate the crab. Also, we didn’t have a pot large enough to cook the crab, so we borrowed one. This recipe serves four as a main meal, but will go further if added to the menu of a shared meal.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (36 votes)


  • 1 Hokkaido king crab (taraba)

Three-spoon vinegar (sanbaizu)

  • 60 ml (¼ cup) rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Freezing time 20 minutes

To put the crab to sleep, place it in the freezer for 20 minutes. Bring a large pot of seawater to the boil and boil the crab for 14 minutes, plus 1 minute extra for every 100 g over 1 kg.

Plunge the cooked crab into cold water to stop the cooking process, then allow it to cool.

Mix the ingredients for the three-spoon vinegar until the sugar is dissolved. Serve the crab with the vinegar for dipping.