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Choosing the Perfect King Crab Legs
When you think about special dinners, menu choices like steak and seafood are sure to top the list of crave-worthy indulgences. Pre-pandemic, we enjoyed about 63 percent of the seafood meals in restaurants. It’s easy to understand why anyone would want to feel pampered while consuming such a feast. While COVID-19 has changed the landscape, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a fine meal.
It’s true that American consumers usually opt for land-animal proteins instead of seafood and plant sources. Nevertheless, fresh seafood sales have risen during the pandemic. You don’t have to dine out to savor your favorite foods. You needn’t feel intimidated about cooking it, either. If you can boil water, you can cook king crab legs. Of course, that only scratches the surface of tasty meal options.
All the same, seafood is spendy, but you can also say the same thing about a lot of foods and non-food items because of the ongoing supply chain issues. That makes choosing the best king crab legs essential for getting the most out of your purchase. We’ll cover all the bases on making an informed choice. We’ll even walk you through how to cook king crab legs to get the most delicious results.
King Crab Size Comparison: Different Crab Types and Leg Sizes
The most popular kinds of crab are blue crab, Dungeness crab, snow crab, and the appropriately named red king crab. They are seasonal, with the most available from October through January. That’s also when they are the tastiest. However, other species have different seasons, with Maryland blue crab at its peak April through November.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and the NOAA Fisheries oversee the red king crab harvest. They regulate the take based on the season, sex, and size of the animals. Therefore, you’ll only find males of a specific size. They can get huge, with some reaching up to 24 pounds with a 5-foot leg span! Suffice to say that those are too big for the pot.
King crab size comparison is sized like other seafood as counts per weight, such as shrimp. For example, you may see shrimp sold at 16–20 ct, meaning that number range per pound of seafood. The categories for crab go from 20–24 to 6–9, with the latter being the largest of the crab legs.
Depending on the harvest and local regulations, you may not find the complete gamut of sizes. We suggest letting your cooking pot, baking sheet, or grill determine what to get. You can base the king crab size comparison on how much you can cook at a time with your preferred method.
Parts of the Crab Leg
King crab is delicious, no matter what you get. Many people consider the claws the prized part because of their sweet, succulent meat. They’re also harder to crack yet worth the effort. Some find that the knuckle meat has a more robust flavor. However, much depends on the harvest, packaging, and handling. Crab is either cooked on the boats at harvest or when it reaches the shore.
Many grocery stores don’t offer the option to get just crab legs, although some may have snow or stone crab claws available. You’ll likely find that you have more choices when you buy online from a company that specializes in seafood, such as Pure Food Fish Market.
What to Look for When Choosing King Crab Legs
As we’ve discussed, this seafood is sold pre-cooked. The most important consideration for choosing the best king crab legs is how it is kept and shipped. They should stay on ice and not in water. Overnight shipping is a must to keep them as fresh as possible. Fortunately, that’s often not a problem, given the time of year that many people indulge in king crab and Pure Food Fish Market’s shipping policies.
You should plan on getting about 1 pound of legs per person. You can scale it back to 0.5 pounds if you’re planning a seafood feast or surf-n-turf meal. Just make sure to put the crab in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it to give them time to thaw out if frozen.
How to Cook King Crab Legs to Perfection
We mentioned boiling water as a way to cook king crab legs. Some will tell you that it’s the only option. Remember that the meat is sweet yet delicate. Some methods may overpower the flavor, making some preps a more suitable choice to highlight the taste of the crab. We’ll discuss some of the most popular ones and let you decide.
Boiling and Steaming the Best King Crab Legs
The question of boiling or steaming is sometimes a hotly contested one. Both are easy and yield similar results. The former allows you to season the water for a welcome flavor boost a la’ the crab boil. However, plain jane is also fine. This method works well if your king crab legs are still frozen yet malleable. They’ll be ready to eat in about 5 minutes.
The steaming time will vary, depending on whether the best king crab legs are thawed or not. If they are, 5 minutes will get the job done. If not, then plan to double the time to 8–10 minutes to heat them thoroughly.
Roasted, Broiled, or Grilled King Crab Legs
This method is an excellent choice if you’re planning on serving several types of seafood. You can have everything done at once with the proper timing. It’s also a tasty way to cook king crab legs to add additional flavorings if you half them to expose the meat. You prepare a melted butter mixture using some tasty ingredients, such as:
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Lemon zest
- Minced shallots
- Flavored olive oil
You can roast crab legs at 450℉ for about 5 minutes or until heated through until warm. Other seafood you can add include scallops, shrimp, or lobster tails. Make sure to have plenty of drawn butter on hand for the ultimate seafood dinner. This accompaniment is simply clarified butter by a different name.
Broiling works well for the best king crab legs, too. You can either half them or leave them whole. The flavoring options are on the table if you opt for the former method. They’ll take about 3–4 minutes if you’ve halved them. If you’re using whole legs, plan on the same amount of time for each side. These same times work with grilling, too. We recommend basting halved crab legs.
You can stick with classic drawn butter or opt for a yummy accompaniment, such as a lemon-basil aioli or a Diablo sauce to kick it up a notch. The best thing about either of these preparations is that you’ll have minimal cleanup so that you can concentrate on the most important thing—eating the best king crab legs!
Final Thoughts on Cooking The Best King Crab Legs
As we’ve shown, you don’t need to be a gourmet chef to cook king crab legs. It starts with getting your seafood from a reputable source, such as Pure Food Fish Market. Whether you prefer crab legs or claws, you can get overnight delivery for the ultimate seafood dinner. Nothing says it better than the best king crab legs.