Getting Crabby in the Kitchen

by in Healthy Tips, In Season, March 2, 2009

Whether you love digging into thick stone crab claw or a bowl of blue crab chowder, now is the time to do it — the season for some varieties (Dungeness especially) has started. Here are some ideas for prepping this sweet, delicious and healthy seafood.

Types of Crab
As fans of the show Deadliest Catch can attest, crab fishing in Alaska can be one wild ride. There are actually many crab types available from different parts of the world. Instead of going for the pink-painted “imitation crab meat” (it’s not even crab but a fish product called “surimi”) experiment with some of these tantalizing varieties.

Blue Crab: Most soft shell crab varieties come from East Coast blue crabs. Try steaming, boiling or adding them to a hearty bowl of chowder.

Dungeness Crab: From the Pacific waters, Dungeness crab is extremely sweet and tender; it’s a good all-purpose crab meat that works in most recipes. Toss cooked pieces with fettucini, shrimp, marinara sauce and a pinch of red pepper flakes for a delicious pasta dish.

Alaska King Crab & Florida Stone Crab: King crab and stone crab are all about the claw meat. Try warming Alaskan crab on a grill, then just crack and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice. Stone crabs (a personal fave) have thick shells that require smashing with a mallet to get to the tender meat — don’t wear nice clothes the first time you try these babies. Dipped in a mustard sauce ( a classic condiment), they are worth the effort.

Nutrition Info
Crab is low in calories and protein-packed. Three ounces of cooked Dungeness crab has 20 grams of protein and less than 100 calories. Crab also contains numerous B vitamins (niacin, B-12 and riboflavin) and are also high in minerals such as zinc and selenium (also an antioxidant). Crab tends to contain low levels of mercury, but the amount depends on the variety. Blue and Dungeness have more mercury than King Crab, for example. Women that are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant should visit the American Pregnancy Association website to learn more.

Ways to Enjoy Crab
Crab recipes such as dumplings, salads and, of course, crab cakes usually call for lump crab meat, which means it comes from the body of the crab. Lump meat is tender and succulent — just make sure to pick through for any shells or tough pieces of cartilage that may have snuck in (nobody wants to bite into that). Claw meat has a sweeter flavor and, in some cases, a less meaty texture – it works great for crab dips and in this recipe for stuffed pepperoncini.

[Photo: Pam Roth / SXU]

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Comments (27)

  1. Lorraine says:

    Chris & Darla,

    You are in luck. The name of the best seafood place in St. Pete is Crabby Bill’s; and they won’t break you budget. Great crab & awesome raw oysters. Enjoy!!!!!!!

  2. Robyn says:

    MD & DE definitely have great blues. If ever in DE beach area, try Lazy Susan’s in Rehoboth or for the best seafood takeout Jimmy Lynn’s. We are all the the Old Bay seasoning over here!

  3. Wendy says:

    Hello we are taking a family vacation to Anna Marie Island in Florida? anybody know of a fun place to go? Big group of us Thanks!!

  4. Mitch Carr says:

    Crabs are wonderful – all kinds, but having lived within seagull range of the Chesapeake Bay my entire life I hold a special fondness for the Blue Crab and hopefully will put together a primer on Blue Crabs this summer.

    Every aspect must be considered when you are dealing with Blue Crabs because the flavor is so delicate and also because they are so expensive.

    Where are they from? Canned crabs usually come from Africa or the Philippines. Early and late season fresh crabs come from the Gulf of Mexico and you only get truly wonderful Chesapeake Bay crabs in mid to late summer. In selecting crabs you must consider male/female, size and weight. I would rather have heavy 6 inch crabs than light 7 inch crabs. Soft crabs are the lightest and the most difficult to harvest so the most expensive.

    As for cooking crabs, crabcakes are the easy out and people tend to use too much seasoning and too much filler. Truly great lump crab should be made as a Crab Imperial. In picking crabs, NEVER use a mallet. Why season crabs that are cooked live? Isn’t it like putting chili powder on the outside of a can of beans? Your fingers actually transfer the season to the meat and the season is all a matter of personal preference.

    There is so much more and hopefully I’ll put together that primer this summer when the REAL crabs are in season.

    Cheers,
    Mitch

  5. Sharon says:

    When near Anna Maria Island, FL try Moore’s Stone Crab Restaurant in Longboat Key. Address is: 800 Broadway, Longboat Key (941-383-1748)

  6. Janifer says:

    For a great crab cake. Use the recipe on the Phillips Seafood can. You can find it at Costco and some grocery stores. Except -do one thing at the beginning.

    Take a slice of white bread. Pull it apart into small pieces. Add enough milk to stir and make a mushy mess and add it to the crab cake mixture. Makre sure you drain an excess milk that doesn't get absorbed. Really great crab cakes.

  7. Awfully enlightening many many thanks, It looks like your current readers may well possibly want even more blog posts similar to this continue the wonderful effort.

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