Alaskan King CrabPosted: November 15, 2011
This Saturday we had a little party, just the two of us. We drank pink champagne out of mugs and whacked enormous king crab legs with a rolling pin. It was pretty amazing.
Our mild obsession with king crab dates back several years when we started watching the Discovery TV show, Deadliest Catch. I was amazed both by the size of the crab they were pulling out of the Bering Sea, and the storms that rocked the fleet. So when we decided to move to Alaska last spring, king crab immediately made our to-do list.
I’m a bit of a latecomer to liking crab, and most seafood, but I have to say in the last five years I have really discovered how much I like just about all of it. Living on Lake Superior gave us access to inexpensive, fresh fish that became part of our weekly menus. Moving to Alaska has only expanded our access to yummy seafood. Saturday was our first dance with king crab, and we already have plans to get it back on the menu.
We had been asking around trying to figure out where to buy king crab, since we don’t actually live near the Bering Sea. It turns out, one of the grocery stores in Fairbanks is the best place to get local seafood. But when we got up to the counter there wasn’t any king crab in the case. We were puzzled. Fortunately, Lucas asked the man behind the counter. Ta da! They keep it in the freezer. Our education on king crab was about to begin. Apparently, you can’t buy fresh king crab. Because of bacteria and other not-so-good microorganisms, king crab must be immediately boiled and then flash frozen when it comes off the boat. So the store always has king crab on hand, they just keep it in the freezer.
Next step, how much to buy. We weren’t really sure what we were doing, so we decided to error on the side of caution and just get a pound, but if we wanted two legs this wasn’t even possible. The two smallest legs the counter worker could find weighted a little over a pound and a half. We decided to go for it, and when he handed me the bag the legs stretched as long as my forearm. This is not your average Maryland crab.
Thank goodness, we also asked this very helpful counter man how to prepare the king crab legs, because despite what we figured, you do not boil them. Since they have already been cooked, you bake them at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. If you boil them, they will loose flavor.
So for our little king crab party we did just that, bake. After they came out of the oven, and didn’t even fit on our plates, it was a little difficult trying to figure out how to get started, but we did our best. Breaking the crab legs at the joints, we pulled out long sections of meat. Wow. The small pieces were still the size of a hot dog. For the bigger sections of the leg, we laid newspaper on the counter and pulled out the rolling pin. We do not have any of the real tools so we made do. A few whacks with the rolling pin, and I pulled out a piece of meat the size of a huge brat! The meat was so tender and flavorful we didn’t need any sauce. It was one of my favorite Alaskan meals so far.
As a funny side note, the spikes on the legs were so hard they left little dents in our rolling pin. And our apartment smelled like crab for two days. Coming in from the snow, the savory smell made me smile every time.