Getting Crabby in the Kitchen

Whether it's peachy colored stone crab claws or the soft shell variety – crab season is in full force. Find out how to prepare this sweet, delicious and healthy ocean delight.

Whether you love digging into thick stone crab claw or a bowl of blue crab chowder, now is the time to do it -- the season for some varieties (Dungeness especially) has started. Here are some ideas for prepping this sweet, delicious and healthy seafood.

Types of Crab

As fans of the show Deadliest Catch can attest, crab fishing in Alaska can be one wild ride. There are actually many crab types available from different parts of the world. Instead of going for the pink-painted “imitation crab meat” (it’s not even crab but a fish product called “ surimi”) experiment with some of these tantalizing varieties.

Blue Crab: Most soft shell crab varieties come from East Coast blue crabs. Try steaming, boiling or adding them to a hearty bowl of chowder.

Dungeness Crab: From the Pacific waters, Dungeness crab is extremely sweet and tender; it’s a good all-purpose crab meat that works in most recipes. Toss cooked pieces with fettucini, shrimp, marinara sauce and a pinch of red pepper flakes for a delicious pasta dish.

Alaska King Crab & Florida Stone Crab: King crab and stone crab are all about the claw meat. Try warming Alaskan crab on a grill, then just crack and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice. Stone crabs (a personal fave) have thick shells that require smashing with a mallet to get to the tender meat -- don’t wear nice clothes the first time you try these babies. Dipped in a mustard sauce ( a classic condiment), they are worth the effort.

Nutrition Info

Crab is low in calories and protein-packed. Three ounces of cooked Dungeness crab has 20 grams of protein and less than 100 calories. Crab also contains numerous B vitamins (niacin, B-12 and riboflavin) and are also high in minerals such as zinc and selenium (also an antioxidant). Crab tends to contain low levels of mercury, but the amount depends on the variety. Blue and Dungeness have more mercury than King Crab, for example. Women that are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant should visit the American Pregnancy Association website to learn more.

Ways to Enjoy Crab

Crab recipes such as dumplings, salads and, of course, crab cakes usually call for lump crab meat, which means it comes from the body of the crab. Lump meat is tender and succulent -- just make sure to pick through for any shells or tough pieces of cartilage that may have snuck in (nobody wants to bite into that). Claw meat has a sweeter flavor and, in some cases, a less meaty texture – it works great for crab dips and in this recipe for stuffed pepperoncini.

    Crab Recipes to Try:
[Photo: Pam Roth / SXU]
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