Crab Tips

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Is crab good for me?

Crab Nutrition Facts

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.

How do I cook crab?

How to Cook Crab

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):

  1. Fill a large saucepan (or dutch oven) with water. Add 5 tablespoons of sea salt. Bring to a rapid boil.

  2. Place crab legs into boiling water.

  3. Bring the water back to a boil and only then start timing.

  4. Once the water has started to boil again, reduce the heat and simmer. Cook large crab legs (e.g. King crab legs) for about 5-7 minutes. The shell will turn a bright orange when done.

  5. Once the crab legs are done, quickly immerse them in cold water to stop the cooking process. This makes sure they do not overcook.

  6. Either serve crab legs immediately for your guests to extract the meat or cool them down, crack open the shell, and remove crab meat yourself. Place crab meat into air-tight container and store in refrigerator.

Steaming live crab:

  1. Pour 4 cups of water into large dutch oven. Add 2 tablespoons of salt.

  2. Place a steaming rack well above the liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil.

  3. As the liquid is heating up, place the live crabs into a large bowl of ice water for about 3 minutes. This is done to keep their legs and claws intact throughout the steaming process.

  4. Place the live crabs onto the steaming rack. Sprinkle with seasoning.

  5. Place lid on pot.

  6. Steam for at least 20 minutes depending on the size and numbers of crab.

  7. The crabs should turn a bright red or orange color when done.

  8. Remove the crabs and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.

  9. Serve hot.

How do I refrigerate live crabs and store them?

Refrigerate Live Crabs

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.

What sizes are king crabs?

Size of King Crabs

Commonly king crab is measured by how many crab legs it would take to make 10 pounds. A size "12-15" would mean there is on an average 12 to 15 legs per 10 pounds. Sizes can range from 6-9 to 21-24's.

What types of king crabs exist?

Types of King Crabs

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.

How do I break the shell of crab legs?

How to Eat Crab Legs

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.

Should I have the crab legs split before buying them?

Splitting King Crab Legs

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.

How do I prepare king crab legs?

Preparing King Crabs

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.

How do I cook King crab

Cooking King Crab Legs

For cooking king crab legs, slit the underside of the leg shell before broiling the crab legs.

What are some types of crab?

Types of Crab

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:

  • King Crab. This crab is so named due to its LARGE size. Kind crabs can weigh up to 10-20 pounds each. And even though they have large bodies, they also have a good meat to shell ratio. Colors range from red, brown, blue, or to golden. Only males are harvested. The delicately-flavored meat is snowy white with a bright red outer edge.
  • Dungeness Crab. Found in coastal waters from Alaska to Mexico, these crabs are named for a small town in Washington state where they were originally harvested. Dungeness crabs are seasonal, prevalent in winter months only. Their large bodies weight 2-4 pounds and contain sweet, succulent flesh. In order to be harvested, they must be at least 6-1/4 inches long.
  • Stone Crab. Usually eaten for its claws because they contain a large amount of meat, the snow crab's flesh is rich, filling, and firm. Stone crab is found in Atlantic waters along the southern coast of the United States. Fishermen catch this crab, remove its claws, and throw crab body back into the water; the crab will regrow its claws. For this reason, stone crab is considered a very ecologically sound seafood choice. It is considered a delicacy in Florida where it is harvested the most.
  • Blue/Softshell Crab. Sweet with rich flesh this crab is considered to be the tastiest by some. It is harvested in the East Coast of the U.S. Its unique feature is its blue-green color, and when it's cooked, it turns red.
  • Snow Crab (also known as spider crab, opilio crab, rock crab, or queen crab). These crabs are found in the north Atlantic and north Pacific Oceans.
  • Alaskan Crab. A variety of king crab harvested in Alaska, the Alaskan crab has the same attributes as the king crab above.
  • Peekytoe or Bay Crab. Found in the eastern US., the bay crab is popular in Maine.
  • Flower Crab. Found in the Mediterranean and Indian Oceans and in parts of Africa, the flower crab has sweet-tasting flesh.
  • Japanese Blue or Horse Crab. This species is known to be one of the most heavily harvested crab species in the world.

How do I eat crab legs?

How to Eat Crab Legs

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:

  • To eat your crab legs, hold the crab leg in one hand. It is best to hold it in your non-dominant hand (e.g. if you are right-handed, hold the crab leg in your left hand). Hold on to the crab cracker in your other hand.
  • Turn the crab leg sideways. You want the sides of the crab leg to fit into your cracking tool. That will give you more leverage. Squeeze the tool until you crack open the shell.
  • Use a long-stemmed fork (most restaurants will have these) to remove the crab meat from the shell of the leg.
  • If you are lucky, you may be able to twist the crab leg at its joints and crack the shell this way. Then simply remove the delicious meat and enjoy.
Some people crack the legs, removing as much crab meat as possible, and then suck the remaining crab meat out of the leg shell.

What can I cook crab into?

Delightfully Tasty Crab Omelet

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.

What types of king crab are there?

Types of King Crabs

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.

How do I eat a whole crab?

How to Eat a Whole Crab

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:

  • To remove the crab meat from the shell once the crab is cooked, grab ahold of the crab legs and twist until they separate from the body. Repeat the same process for the claws. While you may be able to remove the crab meat from the legs easily, the claws require extra effort. You will need to use a mallet because the shells are thicker than the crab legs.
  • Push the body away from the shell by pushing it upwards until you hear (and feel) a pop. This will separate the crab flesh from the shell. Discard the crab's innards and scoop out and enjoy the tender white meat.
You may find it easier to work on the body in quarters to get to the crab meat. Do whatever works for you.

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.

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Kristle Jones