King Crab is the largest and most impressive of the types of crab available in Alaska, and cooking king crab can be quite the culinary experience. Because of the shellfish’s largesse, sweet flavor and rich texture, it can be prepared and presented in a variety of different ways that are pleasing to both the eye and the stomach.
The most popular ways of cooking king crab legs are by boiling, broiling and grilling. This is delicious both warmed and chilled, and it is commonly served with melted butter sauce or a splash of lemon. However, there are ways to spice up standard the crab with additional ingredients and a dash of creativity.
One simple, but delicious, recipe is Alaska King Crab Royale. Start by cutting crab legs into two-and-a-half to three inch pieces. Brush crab with the following mixture: one-fourth cup melted butter, one tablespoon lemon juice, two teaspoons grated onion, one tablespoon finely chopped parsley, one-fourth teaspoon crushed tarragon and a dash of bottled hot pepper, like Tabasco. This recipe can be used for two ways of cooking the crab. One way is to broil shell-side down about three to five inches from the heat for three to four minutes, brushing occasionally with the sauce. Alternately, barbeque aficionados can use a grill with this recipe. Just place the crab legs, shell-side down, on a rack about five inches above hot coals and grill until thoroughly heated. This recipe makes about two servings.
For a touch of Nuevo Latino, try cooking king crab grilled in a lime-butter sauce. Preheat a grill or broiler to medium-high. Stir together one-third cup melted butter, one-fourth to one-half teaspoon chili oil, one-eighth teaspoon cayenne pepper, and a halved lime’s worth of juice. Brush this mixture over the exposed parts of the crab, then cook four to five minutes or until heated through. Serve with avocado salad, fried plantains or yucca chips. Mango margaritas or mojitos are the perfect complement.
Most people who enjoy a good crab know that Alaskan king crab is synonymous with flavor. Until recently though, most people did not know that Alaskan king crab fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Why is that? Because “crabbing,” as it is called, requires the fishermen to sail out to the deep sea in the heart of winter, which as you can imagine, is also the season of treacherous storms. The season is short and sleep is limited. Compared to the average worker, the fatality rate among the fishermen is about 90 times higher. But to read accounts of crab fishermen is to know that there is an allure to the lifestyle, a connection to the sea that keeps them returning to the icy waters to make their potentially deadly catch.
Though crabs are caught in Russia and in international waters, the most prominent (and sustainable) of the crab fishing occurs off the coast of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. In 1980 the crab fishing industry was at a peak, presenting a catch of over 200 million pounds of crab; however, due to many factors, catches decreased after this year and thus the season was shortened to accommodate regeneration. The harvest now is performed in a very short amount of time and then the catch is shipped worldwide. Recent Alaskan king crab fishing seasons have been as short as 4 days, and can range from one to two weeks.