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
- 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
- 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˚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.