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. Rick says:

    JOANNA,
    I am a Wisconsinite in Louisiana! Blue crabs are best for a big boil but I could never find fresh ones in Milwaukee, I just went to Crawdaddys Resturant to get my fix at home!

  2. Destin says:

    I Love Dungeness Crab!!! There is this great little dive in Gulf Shores, Al. called King Neptunes. They Have the Best Dungeness crabs I have ever had. I make myself sick. everyone should check it out if your ever in the area

  3. Jack Ziegler says:

    If you want good blue crabs go to Maryland. Try Bo Brooks in Fells Point Baltimore. Fantastic

  4. Sherry says:

    I LOVE my Dungeness crab, so glad to hear it’s back in season so hopefully the price will come down. Nanci I always clean my own but it takes time if you’re going to do the whole thing. You can get away with cleaning the body and just serving the whole legs (often the stores will clean out the body for you),that way everyone can share in the labor of love for crab.

  5. Sherry says:

    I’m curious, how do you eat soft shell crabs? I here that people fry them, do you eat the shells and all?

  6. One bowl of curry crab and dumblin with coconut milk is very delicious.

  7. I WOULD LIKE YOU TO TASTE A DISH WITH CREAM,SPINACH,WITH OCHROE COCONUTMILK,AND CRAB.

  8. Mary says:

    I want to try a recipe with blue crab does anybody have any that they could share with me???

  9. Toby Amidor says:

    Hi Jody,
    Dana and I dined at City Crab in NYC last year and it was great! Address is: 235 Park Ave S. Enjoy!!

  10. Chris & Darla says:

    Can anyone suggest a great crab joint in the St. Petersburg, Fl area? New to the area and dying to find one! Thanks! :)

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