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Cooking School Fundamentals-Crab

Second in popularity in the U.S. only to shrimp, crab is one of America’s favorite shellfish. Along with crayfish, lobster and shrimp, crab is categorized in the crustacean class of shellfish, characterized by hard outer shells, jointed legs and gills for breathing. Crabs have a total of 10 legs with the front two legs bearing pincers. Two species of crab harvested from the cold, northern Pacific waters near Alaska include snow and king. Snow crab is also caught off Canada’s eastern seaboard in the north Atlantic.

Snow crab is often referred to as the queen of crab, offering tender, pink-tinged white meat with a sweet, yet slightly salty, flavor. They can weigh four pounds each and live up to 14 years. While snow crab is rather abundant, king crab is not as widely available. With a rapidly decreasing population, quotas strictly control the harvesting of king crab. King crab boasts moist, rich, snowy white meat with delicate flavor and bright red edging. This giant-sized crab can measure up to 10 feet from claw to claw, and usually weighs between 10 and 15 pounds.

You can find frozen pre-cooked snow and king crab legs in the Seafood Department of your local Schnucks or Logli store. Our crab legs are perfectly cooked, then immediately flash-frozen to guarantee freshness. Since they’ve already been cooked, crab legs only need to be thawed or reheated before eating either chilled or hot. Frozen pre-cooked crab legs can be reheated in a number of ways, including baking, boiling or grilling. As a rule of thumb, one to one and a half pounds of frozen precooked crab legs will feed two eagerly awaiting adults.

To prepare, remove the crab legs from their plastic bag and run them under cool water to remove any frost or ice particles. Place them on a rimmed baking pan lined with a clean dish towel, and with a second towel, lightly pat the legs to absorb any excess moisture.

Bake: Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove dish towel lining in baking pan and bake crab legs 10 to 15 minutes depending on their size.

Boil: Heat a large, covered saucepot filled two-thirds full with water to boiling over high heat. Add crab legs, cover and cook 5 minutes. Remove legs from saucepot and cool slightly.

Grill: Preheat indoor or outdoor grill on high heat. Brush crab legs with 1/8 cup vegetable oil. Place legs on hot grill rack and cook 2 to 3 minutes, then turn and cook 2 minutes longer.

For an easy method to remove crabmeat from the shells, see the step-by-step instructions on page 15*. Enjoy the succulent meat dipped in clarified butter or the sauces on the next page; use in soups, chowders and gumbos; appetizers such as crab cakes or sushi; or tossed into pasta.

Crabmeat is also delicious served chilled. Simply thaw crab legs in the refrigerator overnight, or place the unopened plastic bag in a large bowl of cold water for about 30 minutes or until the crabmeat is thawed. Serve with your favorite dip, toss in salads or serve in a martini glass with lettuce, chopped celery and cocktail sauce.