How to Prepare and Cook Alaska King Crab
In Alaska, three species of king crab are caught commercially: the red king crab, found in Bristol Bay, Norton Sound, and the Kodiak Archipelago), blue king crab found in St. Matthew Island and the Pribilof Islands), and golden king crab found in the Aleutian Islands. The red king crab is the most prized of the three for its meat.
In addition to being a delectable treat, preparing Alaska King Crab for dinner is extremely simple if a few steps are followed.
- If you are purchasing live crab from a store or market, look for those that show some sign of life to ensure they really have been caught recently. There should not be any distinct, undesirable scent, besides that of the sea, for fresh or frozen crab in the shell.
- King Crab legs are sold in terms of the number of legs found in ten-pound increments. Large legs would be listed as six-to-nine, while smaller ones may be found in classifications as high as 20-21.
- If you receive your crab whole, cleaning them prior to cooking is an easy step. In a large sink under running water, grasp the main body shell near the back and pull towards the eyes until the shell comes off completely. Remove the white, feathery gills and darker stomach and other parts. Wash the remaining body cavity under the running water until only the white to slightly yellow meat, along with cartilage and shell, remains. Washing any crab is a good idea to remove any salty, brine taste as well.
- Proceeding to the cooking stage would be the next step for fresh crab. Frozen crab should be left in a refrigerator overnight to thaw or run under lukewarm water to 15 minutes to prepare it quickly. Thawed crab should be kept in a refrigerator no longer than about two days.
- There are several methods for cooking crab, with steaming and boiling as the most common. Next to a source for heat, a large pot for boiling water and tongs to pick up the crab are really the only tools needed to prepare the crab if boiling. Add a tray basket that fits the pot if steaming is your desired method. For boiling, once the water has achieved a significant roll, break off legs and shoulders into pieces that will fit the pit and fully submerge them, taking care to avoid grabbing the legs at the sharp spine points.
- Thawed or fresh crab will take about four to six minutes to cook, while frozen will take nearly ten minutes. The same amount if time generally applies for steaming. The meat is generally ready when you can smell the definitive crab scent, but a bluish tint suggests the meat wasn't cooked enough or it wasn't cleaned properly. Adding spices, such as Old Bay or Lawry's Salt to the boiling water is an easy way to add a little flavor to the crab.
- Crab can also be grilled or baked in an oven or microwave. Grilling for about five minutes with nothing more than olive oil brushed on the legs will prepare the crabs for eating. If baking in an oven, place a small amount of water in the pan with several crab legs and cook at 350 degrees F for about ten minutes. Microwaving at high heat for no more than five minutes per half pound with a small amount of water in the container will provide excellent results as well.