What’s the Most Popular Way to Prepare Crab Legs?

king crab legs for sale at our local fish marketCrab legs are filled with tender white meat that tastes delicious with a little butter and a splash of lemon juice. Here in New England, we can enjoy both King Crab legs and Snow Crab legs. King Crab legs are the most popular. These large crustaceans have long meaty legs. Snow Crabs are smaller but equally tasty. Their shorter legs are filled with meat that has a sweeter flavor.

When you pick up crab legs from your local fish monger or seafood market, you should get 1 pound per person. Keep in mind that, once crab legs are thawed, they should be prepared and eaten within two days.

Precooked vs Fresh Crab Meat

Most crab meat is sold precooked. Precooked crab meat has the same great flavor as fresh crab meat. The crabs are typically cooked on the fishing boat and immediately flash frozen to preserve the rich flavor of the meat.

Whether you pick up precooked or fresh crab meat, it is best to buy it frozen. The longer crab legs are thawed, the more flavor the meat loses.

Preparing Crab Legs

Reheating precooked crab legs only takes a matter of minutes. You can steam them, boil them, bake them or nuke them in the microwave. Cooking fresh crab legs is just as simple but requires a little extra time.

Before you reheat or cook crab legs, be sure to thaw them. Thawing crabmeat ensures that it will heat up evenly. You can defrost crab legs in the refrigerator overnight (for about 8 hours) or by running cold water over them. If you thaw them in the refrigerator, place them in a watertight container that has a rack to set them on so that any water can drain to the bottom during defrosting.

You should always run some cool water over the legs to wash off any dirt, seaweed or sand on them. Once you’ve thawed and washed them, you are ready to heat them.

How to Steam Crab Legs

1. Fill a large pot with 2 cups of water and a tablespoon of salt.

2. Bring the water to a boil.

3. Place a rack or steaming basket over the water, add the crab legs, and cover them.

4. Steam for 5 to 7 minutes or until you smell their sweet aroma.

5. Remove from heat using tongs or oven mitts and serve.

If you are preparing fresh, uncooked crab:

Steam Snow Crab legs for 12 to 14 minutes and King Crab legs for 20 to 24 minutes.

How to Boil Crab Legs

1. Fill a large sauce pan with 2 cups of water, a tablespoon of salt and any additional seasonings you would like.

2. Bring the water to a boil.

3. Drop in the crab legs and reduce the heat.

4. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until they smell done.

5. Drain the water and serve hot.

If you are preparing fresh, uncooked crab:

Simmer Snow Crab legs for 6 to 8 minutes and King Crab legs for 12 to 14 minutes.

How to Bake Crab Legs

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and pull out a baking pan.

2. Crack the crab legs at the joints and place them on the pan.

3. Brush the crab legs with butter or oil, a splash of lemon juice and lightly dust with salt and any additional seasonings you like.

4. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes.

boiling crab legs for crab meat in new london ctIf you are preparing fresh, uncooked crab:

Bake Snow Crab legs for 20 to 24 minutes and King Crab legs for 30 to 36 minutes. To check that the meat is done, use cooking shears to cut open a leg at its thickest point. If the meat looks firm and opaque, instead of translucent, it is done.

No matter how you prepare them, serve them with melted butter and lemon wedges or cocktail sauce and enjoy.

Stop by City Fish Market to pick up restaurant quality crab legs! If you stop in between April and September, you find Soft Shell Crabs along with Snow Crabs and King Crabs.

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