Tortang Alimasag (Filipino Crab Omelette)

This Filipino crab omelette presents itself like rellenong alimasag: a mixture of crabmeat, egg, and potatoes packed and fried inside crab shells.
6–8 servings
Prep Time
2 Hrs
Active Time
20 Mins

While most tortang alimasag (crab omelette) recipes take the form of pan-fried patties, this recipe takes a direction towards rellenong alimasag, or stuffed crabs. The torta mixture of crabmeat, eggs, and potatoes go into cleaned crab shells, packed then fried until golden all over. Expect oohs and ahhs from your family when this impressive dish gets to your dinner table.

How to get crabmeat from fresh whole crabs

Preparing fresh crabs may seem intimidating, but the quality of fresh crabmeat beats the packaged ready-to-use kind any day. Be ready to spend an hour or two on this step.

1. Steam fresh crabs

Once you’ve bought your alimasag from the market or grocery, you’ll need to steam them first.

Add a shallow pool of water (about ¼-inch high) to a wok or wide pan. Cover the pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat until steam forms.

Once you have your steam going, add your crabs in batches. Cover and steam for about 10 minutes. The exact cooking time may vary depending on the size of the crabs, the size of your pan, and the number of crabs you’re steaming at a time.

Set steamed crabs aside until cool enough to handle. Repeat with remaining crabs, if any. Make sure you always have enough water in your pan to form steam!

2. Remove crab’s apron or skirt

Check the underside of the crab for a triangular piece around its bottom. This is the crab’s apron or skirt. Pull and twist to remove.

3. Remove crab’s top shell

Look for the pointed end of the crab’s shell—it’s a flap you can pull to dislodge the shell from the body. Discard the guts inside the top shell. Rinse, pat dry, and save the shells for later.

4. Clean and extract crabmeat

If you’re cleaning a female crab, you might find some orange roe or tomalley in the center. This is the stuff used to make aligue or taba ng talangka. You can keep it, if you like!

Look for the dark, spongy appendages on both sides of the crab—these are its gills. Pull to remove and discard.

Crack the crab body down the middle into two halves. This makes the crabmeat easier to access. Pick out the white crabmeat and set aside.

Use a crab cracker or crab mallet to remove the shell from the claws and legs, exposing more crabmeat for your torta.

Or use packaged crab meat for tortang alimasag patties

While fresh crab is ideal, you can use canned crabmeat to make a shell-less tortang alimasag. America’s Test Kitchen recommends soaking packaged crabmeat in milk at least 20 minutes to overnight to get rid of its lansa, or fishiness.

This recipe makes about 16 medium-sized tortang alimasag. Skip the shell-stuffing step and form patties out of your egg and crabmeat mixture. To cook, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat. Pan-fry the torta patties in batches until golden brown on both sides.


  • 450g crabmeat from about 2kg alimasag
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup cubed potatoes
  • ½ cup cubed white onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • alimasag (blue crab) shells, cleaned
  • neutral oil, for frying

Make crab mixture: Add crabmeat to a mixing bowl. Add garlic, eggs, cornstarch, potatoes, onions, and salt. Mix with a rubber spatula until mixture is well combined.


Stuff crab shells: Working one piece at a time, fill and pack each alimasag shell with small spoonfuls of crab mixture. Repeat with remaining shells and crab mixture.


Fry stuffed crab shells: Heat oil for frying in a wok or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Oil should register 350°F in an instant-read thermometer.

Working in batches, add stuffed crab shells (filling side up) to the hot oil. Fry for 2 minutes, carefully spooning oil over the filling to cook. Flip the shells, now filling side down, and fry for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a metal rack or paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil. Repeat with remaining stuffed crab shells. Serve hot with steamed rice.

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