I have a love/hate affair with crab. The pain, the agony, the joy and the ecstasy! No pain, no gain right? And yes, it’s a mess…there’s no clean, civil crab eating in this house!
Last week, I shared Part I of Cooking King Crab Legs where I explained how to prepare it using a microwave. Very simple, very delicious. Part II covers how to steam crab legs and tips for cracking claws and knuckles.
This picture says it all: Summer is feeling the sting of a prickly crab shell, Saige is wondering where hers is, Jeff is getting meat out for basically everyone, and the rest of the crew is enjoying the crab feast!
COOKING CLASSIC KING CRAB
If you are entertaining and want to present a classic whole crab leg to your guests, then steaming is the way to go. It too is simple and easy to do!
First order of business is to make sure you have a large enough pot or steamer. We purchased this one to steam tamales, and it works perfectly for cooking king crab legs (which can average 18 inches easily). When you have that, you are ready to roll.
- King Crab Legs (1-1 1/2 lbs per person if they like crab)
- 2-3 tsp. Old Bay seasoning (optional)
- 1 tbsp salt
- Clarified or Melted Butter
- For a kick, three drops hot sauce in butter to really draw out flavors
Thaw crab thoroughly, preferably in the fridge. (We pull ours out, and place on a cookie sheet to catch liquids the night before)
Place 1 inch of water in bottom of steamer. Add Old Bay and salt, place steaming rack in pot, cover with lid, and bring to a boil.
When water is boiling, place whole crab legs in pot (they easily bend at the joint). Depending on the size of the legs, we can usually fit 5-7 in the pot.
Don’t place crab directly into the water! Boiling this type of crab is not ideal, so ensure it’s above water. Continue boiling, and cover with lid. Let steam for 6-7 min. Remove from steamer, and enjoy! Easy, right?
BREAKING DOWN CRAB LEGS
When attacking a whole crab leg, the best way to start is to break the leg down at the joints. Once steamed, you should easily be able to do this with your hands. Beware, even cooked crabs fight back with their sharp edges along the legs.
Grab both sides, and simply break it. While pulling the two pieces apart, you should be able to remove the tendons whole from the main thigh and lower leg. If they don’t come out, just be aware they are there.
Sometimes the meat comes right out of the shell as you separate the joints and pull the legs apart. If that happens, just pull it off the tendons.
To deal with intact sections, at home we use sharp scissors to cut up the legs, and even claws as it’s easier for the kids, but if you have crab crackers (or the redneck way of pliers), feel free to use them to help save your hands!
I’ve never taken scissors to a restaurant…I wonder if that would be kosher. Of course, now that you can cook crab legs at home for 1/3 the cost, I actually don’t order them anymore!
When it comes to claws, break them away from the other sections like you did the legs. If you have a cocktail fork, these smaller sections are a great place to use it on to get all the meat out without necessarily cracking them.
For the claw itself, crack open if you have a cracker. Or, bend claw pincer backwards and remove section. Once again, there is a tendon. Then you can use your scissors to get to the claw meat.
The knuckles are the large sections of meat, shell, etc. that are at the top of the crab. This section was part of the crab body itself. Many people will just skip this part of the crab as if good crab meat is going to taste fishy, it’s this part that will likely be the culprit.
I’m not one to waste crab, so if I’m not going to make a stock with it, I will use my fingers to dig it out, removing undesirable parts, or use a cocktail fork. I usually find it’s quite delicious!
Finally! You have all this delectable crab meat out, ready to enjoy. One final note: in some cases there is a white film like substance on parts of the legs. I personally remove this. Then enjoy!
Cooking King Crab legs is so easy and makes the perfect “splurge” meal for holidays, big games, or maybe just an intimate dinner. I encourage you to try it at home…you too, may never order crab in a restaurant again!1