Crab is my favourite type of seafood of all time. The delicate, sweet meat melts in your mouth like no other and I find myself craving it more often than I’d like to admit. Recently the local supermarket had a great deal on fresh, live crabs that I could not pass up.
Dungeness crabs are a popular delicacy and are the most common commercially imported crab throughout the Pacific Northwest region. The sweet and tender flesh makes them extremely popular with over 53 million pounds being harvested annually.
Here are some tips on how to prepare and purchase your crab. Enjoy!
The best way of buying crabs are when they are alive (stored in tanks of salt water). They should not have an overly fishy smell or turned over on their backs as this is a sign that they have died.
The freshest crabs will have a slight purple tinge to their shells. In tanks that are overly packed you may notice that the crabs have a brownish colour which is a result of algae growth. Do not be alarmed though if your grocery only has brown tinged crabs, as the colour is not the only way of determining its freshness. Another way of knowing that your crab is fresh is to pick the most lively one in the tank. A happy crab will be one that is feisty when disturbed. You will want to use tongs and carefully grab at the back of the shell. This will prevent it from pinching your fingers.
Although you can place a live crab directly into a pot of boiling water, many experts find this to be inhumane. Also many believe that cooking a whole crab compromises the meat as the flavour and/or toxins of the guts will seep into the delicate flesh.
If you wish to cook the crab disassembled, carefully place it into the freezer. Since crabs are cold-blooded the cooler temperature will put them into a sleep-like mood making them easier to handle. Please note that a crab should only be in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. Any longer will cause the meat to start to freeze which ruins the sweet flavour.
Once immobilised, flip your crab onto its back and locate the apron (the flat, tear shaped flap located at the rear of the crab). Take a knife and stab the crab in the upper point of the apron. The crab should go limp if hit in the correct spot.
To remove the legs from the shell, grab one set and begin to twist. This will dislodge them from the body and make the cleaning process easier. Once the first set is removed, repeat on the other side. Remove the gills (as these are uneatable) and rinse legs under cool water.
*Please note that you should separate the legs and crack along the joints if you wish to flavour your crab during the cooking process.
- 3 shallots
- 3 tsp of grated ginger
- 6 or 7 cloves of garlic
- 2 Tbsp of cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp of soy sauce
- 6 stocks of green onion
- 1 Tbsp of sake
- 1 cup of water
1. Mince your green onions, shallots and garlic cloves and set aside. Take a sharp knife and carefully remove the outer layer of your ginger before grating and also set aside.
2. Take your cleaned, cracked crab legs and sprinkle cornstarch over top. Give them a good mix to evenly distribute.
3. Add to sesame oil to a large pot and place onto medium-high heat. Add in your shallots, garlic and ginger and let simmer until aromatic before adding in your crab legs. Add soy sauce and sake and mix well before covering for 2 minutes.
4. Remove lid and add in your water. Make sure to give your pot a good stir to ensure that nothing sticks to the bottom and burns. Recover and let steam for another 5 minutes or until shells have turned a vibrant orange colour.
5. Plate your crab and garnish with green onions. Serve alongside rice or enjoy alone!