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Typhoon Shelter Corn Ribs

Roasted and seasoned Corn Ribs in a blue bowl
Photograph by Isa Zapata, food styling by Kendra Vaculin, prop styling by JoJo Li

The story goes that typhoon shelter dishes were first created on fishing boats housed in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter. Most commonly made with freshly caught crab, these punchy stir-fries were served by boat dwellers entertaining customers who’d come to eat and drink on the fishing boats anchored in the cove. At their peak in the 1970s, there were reportedly more than 300 such tiny floating eateries, serving an iconic genre of fresh seafood cooked at high heat.

The lively scene faded in the 1980s as the government ceased issuing licenses for boat restaurants and implemented schemes relocating most of the boat population to landside public housing. But the boat dwellers took their iconic typhoon shelter dishes with them, setting up restaurants and cooked food stalls around Wan Chai and beneath the Canal Road Flyover, thereby earning the iconic stir-fry style another name: Under the Bridge Spicy Crab.

Today the original formula has gone through many permutations, and the same dish can taste quite different in different restaurants all over Hong Kong. For one, “typhoon shelter-style” has become a technique that can be applied to a myriad of ingredients, from shellfish to vegetables and even fried rice. Some chefs add breadcrumbs; others don’t. Some add chile in the form of Sichuan doubanjiang, some chili oil, and others fresh chiles. Some, as you see here, apply this technique to vegetables such as corn ribs. The common denominator, nevertheless, remains the sheer intensity of the dish: a whopping amount of minced and fried garlic, wok hei (the distinctly smoky flavor imbued on a dish from wok cooking), and a deep, sustaining, fiery spice that’s frankly uncharacteristic of Cantonese cuisine—a tradition most commonly known for its delicacy and clean flavors.

Typhoon-shelter stir-fries aren’t easy to master. Much of the dish’s success is contingent on the management of heat. Undercooked garlic can be acrid yet a couple of seconds too long and it burns. Unevenly shaped ingredients may be hard to thoroughly cook and season through. Which is to say that excellent typhoon-shelter dishes aren’t to be missed on any trips to Hong Kong; the chef’s mastery of the wok is the key ingredient.

To overcome those challenges at home, these corn ribs need to be blanched before they’re stir-fried. At the venerable Oi Man Sang, in Hong Kong, they’re blanched in oil, but at home water will do. Then the breadcrumb garlic crisp and the seasonings must be measured out before the stir-fry begins to minimize any risk of burning. As you would see in the Oi Man Sang episode in our Youtube Series Street Eats, the stir-fry portion of the recipe only takes a matter of seconds. There isn’t time for fuss. 

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What you’ll need

Recipe information

  • Total Time

    25 minutes

  • Yield

    2 servings


½ cup panko
¼ cup store-bought fried garlic
¼ tsp. finely ground white pepper
¼ tsp. MSG or shiitake mushroom powder
1 tsp. sugar, divided
½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
2 ears of corn, husked
1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. light or regular soy sauce
1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. well-stirred chili crisp
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 scallions, cut into 2" pieces
1 2" piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 red Thai chiles, thinly sliced


  1. Step 1

    Toast ½ cup panko in a dry wok or medium skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and add ¼ cup store-bought fried garlic, ¼ tsp. finely ground white pepper, ¼ tsp. MSG or shiitake mushroom powder, ½ tsp. sugar, and ½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt; mix to combine. Set panko mixture aside. Wipe out and reserve wok.

    Step 2

    Using a cleaver or chef’s knife, trim 2 ears of corn, husked, then cut in half crosswise. Working one at a time, stand each piece on a cut end and slice vertically through core into quarters, resting the knife’s cutting edge on corn and knocking the back of knife with your hand to force it through core. (You should have 8 wedges per ear.)

    Step 3

    Cook corn in a medium pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until kernels are tender, about 5 minutes; drain, shaking off excess water.

    Step 4

    Meanwhile, stir 1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. light or regular soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. well-stirred chili crisp, and remaining ½ tsp. sugar in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved.

    Step 5

    Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in reserved wok over high until beginning to smoke. Cook 2 scallions, cut into 2" pieces, one 2" piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped, 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, and 2 red Thai chiles, thinly sliced, stirring constantly, until garlic is golden brown, about 1 minute. Immediately add corn and soy sauce mixture. Cook, tossing constantly, until corn is lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and add reserved panko mixture; toss to combine.

    Step 6

    Transfer corn ribs to a medium bowl.

    Do Ahead: Panko mixture can be made 2 weeks ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

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