King Crab Season: Get Crackin’
January 2, 2014
While most of the world settles for frozen King crab legs in the month of February, we embrace the deepwater delicacy as a living ingredient. Fresh King crab has a subtle sweetness that must be celebrated, not masked with heavy-handed preparation. When I prepare it at home (which I highly recommend — just be sure you're purchasing from a reputable fishmonger who sources from the sustainably managed Alaskan side of the Bering Strait), I start by lightly rinsing the crab pieces to wash away stray bits of shell. Place crab legs and knuckles, flesh side up, in a single layer in a rimmed heat-proof dish. Dab the crab flesh with minced garlic and sprinkle with green onion. Using a bamboo steamer that will hold the dish, or a rack set over simmering water, steam the crab with the lid on tight for five (legs) to 10 (knuckles) minutes. The shells should turn bright red and the flesh opaque. Carefully decant the crab and its juices onto a serving platter. You may have to cook the crab in batches, which is no problem — think of it as a crab conveyor belt! Chinese home cooks wouldn't serve any other sauces, but no one will be upset if you supply warmed butter and crusty bread to sop up the juices.
Steamed Alaskan King Crab
There is no chef in Vancouver more closely aligned with innovative seafood than Robert Clark, formerly of C. Here he punches up King crab's soft umami flavours with citrus and bright pepper. Find ingredients in Asian grocery stores and at Clark's own newly opened The Fish Counter on Main Street.
1 Alaska King crab, 8-10 lbs, cleaned and prepped by fishmonger, the legs and knuckles chopped into manageable pieces but not split open
2 cups dashi (Japanese stock)
2 oranges, zested
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp mirin
1 shallot, finely diced
0.5 lb butter, cold, diced
1 tsp togarashi (spice mix), or to taste
1 bunch green onions,sliced
1 pkg enoki mushrooms, trimmed of roots so you get individual strands
Crack the crab pieces and steam them in a basket set over a large pot of simmering water. The crab should be ready in 5-10 minutes (when the shells are bright red and the flesh opaque). Take care not to overcook.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine dashi, orange zest, soy sauce, mirin, and shallot. Bring to a soft boil and slowly whisk in the diced butter. Remove from heat and add togarashi, green onions, and enoki mushrooms. Enjoy as a dipping sauce or poured over the steamed, cracked crab. Serves 8