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As a member of the crustacean family, any variety of edible crab is known for its high nutrient content. So what exactly are you getting when enjoy your whole crab or crab legs?
Crab, a shellfish, used to have a bad reputation for having a high cholesterol content. As more and more research has been done into this subject, however, this myth has been proven invalid. Shellfish, overall, are known to have higher cholesterol content than most fish. However, if you eat it in moderate quantities – as is recommended – you will find crab and other shellfish to be extremely good for you. This includes king crab legs, snow crab legs, and all types of crab.
Crab is known to be very low in fat and a heart-healthy food. Crab is also an excellent source of protein, and, to top it off, contains few calories. Crab is a good source of chromium, which is known to help lower the levels of “good” cholesterol in our bodies. In turn, this lowers the risk of both heart and circulatory disease. Chromium also helps diabetes by stabilizing glucose levels. In addition, crab contains selenium, which is known to aid in the prevention of cancer.
Crab meat contains vital amounts of essential fatty acids, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous. These nutrients are all important for a well-balanced nutritional diet. The conclusion? Crab is a nutrient-rich powerhouse.
When you purchase pre-cooked crab (whole, crab legs, or crab meat) that is frozen, defrost it by taking it out of the freezer and placing it in the refrigerator overnight.
If you find that you need to defrost your frozen crab item quickly, wrap it tightly and securely in plastic wrap or in a large closable plastic bag and place it into a sinkful of cold water. When thawed, cook it immediately. Do not use hot water.
Plan on a two-pound whole crab taking one hour to defrost using this quick method.
Here is some information to help you cook your crab legs and crab meat. Once you have the whole crab cooked and cooled, you can remove the crab meat and crab legs.
How to cook crab legs (boiling method):
Refrigerate live crabs, covered by a damp towel, until just before cooking. They should be cooked the first day your bought the crabs. Leftover cooked crabmeat may be refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to two days. Canned crabmeat may be stored, once opened, in the refrigerator for up to two days.
There are three types of king crab available in the market, red king crabs, golden king crabs, and blue king crabs. Red king crab is the most sought out for as it is known for its sweet meat. Golden king crab is commonly smaller and more affordable, yielding less meat. Blue king crab tends to have extraordinary large right claws. It is similar in taste to Red king crab but its size is usually larger.
King crab is usually served within its own natural shell. People use nut crackers, knives, and even hammers to break the shell. Using a fork is sometimes the best. By inserting one fork tong into the end of the crab leg, bending the top three fork tongs downward to break the shell, then moving the fork forward along your cut and continuing the same strategy works okay. Be careful of a broken shell.
Having your king crab legs split before serving them is another great way to serve king crab. This allows for very easy access to the crab meat. Finding split king crab can be hard though. You may want to look for a local seafood retailer that can split the crab for you.
When king crab is caught at sea, often it is cooked and blast frozen to secure its prized taste. Preparing king crab is usually just a matter of using your favorite reheating method. Thawing your king crab is the first thing at hand. Correctly done, king crab is thawed under refrigeration at or below 38 degrees. If you're in a big hurry, king crab can be ran under cold water to speed this up. Try bending the crab legs at their joints or slightly squeezing the middle of the merus section to make sure the king crab has thawed. Once thawed, you can prepare it for cooking. Don't forget to break off part of a crab leg and pick out the sweet meat to add to a salad later.
There are numerous crab species found throughout the world, and not all are edible. Here are some of the more popular edible crabs you will find in your fish market:
If you have never eaten crab legs before, the task may appear daunting. Others who are enjoying their crab legs and delicious crab recipes make it look easy. So, how do you eat crab legs?
First of all, have patience. It takes time to properly crack open the crab legs and eat the meat from them. And, when you finally do get to the meat, you may look at it and say “Is that all there is?” Even in crabs such as Dungeness that have a high meat to shell ratio, the meat still takes time to get to. If you are enjoying stone crab claws, you will need a mallet to crack the shell because its shell is very hardy and thick. Every restaurant or seafood buffet will carry a tool you can use to crack open your crab legs. A good colloquial name for the tool is a "crab cracker" because it actually looks like a large version of a nut cracker.
Here's how to eat crab legs:
Enjoy this heart-healthy way to cook crab meat any time of the day! Both omelet versions are high-protein treats for morning, noon, or night. For breakfast or brunch, serve with grilled red potatoes and salsa. For dinner, serve with roasted veggies and red potatoes.
1 pound crab meat
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 eggs, beaten (or equivalent egg substitute amount)
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
In an omelet pan (or small skillet), heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté. Mix crab meat, eggs and cheese. Pour egg mixture into skillet to cover the sauteed onions. Reduce heat slightly. As the omelet cooks, lift the edges with a spatula, letting the uncooked part run underneath. When the top looks creamy and almost set, keep on heat to brown slightly. You want to make sure there is no raw egg left. Turn the omelet onto a warmed plate and fold it in half. Garnish with parsley.
Here is an alternative method, for making a stuffed crab omelet:
Lightly spritz a nonstick pan with olive oil. Add the crab and onions. Cook until the onions are translucent. Remove crab mixture and set aside.
Mix the eggs and cheese together. Pour into heated skillet (the same one you just cooked the crab mixture in). Cook over medium heat until the top looks creamy and set. Place the omelet onto a serving plate. Place the crab mixture on one side. Fold the omelet in half and serve!
Both recipes serve two.
There are three types of King Crab in Alaska, Red King Crab, Blue King Crab and Brown King Crab. True Red King Crabs are the most prized species of crabs in the world. Blue King Crabs are one of the largest crabs in the world. Brown King Crabs are the smallest of the three types.
Some crab lovers may be curious as to if and how one can eat a whole crab. Some restaurants serve them, and you can also purchase whole crabs in a variety of fish markets and seafood departments in grocery stores. By buying and eating a whole crab you can enjoy a variety of crab meat in addition to the crab legs (which contain crab meat).
First of all, know that eating a crab -- either crab legs or a whole crab -- is time consuming. It is not an easy process that is done in a couple of minutes. Once you get the hang of it, though, it does go quicker.
Here are some tips for how to eat a whole crab:
Also, if you come across any juices from the shells, save them. You can use them in other seafood or crab recipes such as fish sauce, soup, or stock.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|