A Guide to Buying and Cooking Crab
The most commonly available types of crab, depending on where you live, include: blue crabs from the East Coast, Dungeness from the West Coast, king crabs from Alaska, and stone crabs from Florida.
Blue crabs are small, sold live and usually boiled, steamed or turned into soup. During spring, when the crabs molt, you can find soft-shell crabs sold cleaned. The entire soft-shell crab is edible, and it's superb when lightly floured, sautéed and served with lemon. Fresh-picked blue crab meat is sold as "lump," meaning large chunks (the most desirable and pricey), or "flake," indicating smaller bits.
Dungeness crabs are larger than blue crabs, and they are usually sold cooked, often frozen.
King crabs can weigh up to 25 pounds. The legs are usually sold cooked and frozen.
Black-tipped stone crab, a delicacy of Floridian waters, is hardly ever sold whole. When captured, one of the claws is broken off and the live crab is thrown back into the water to regenerate another smaller claw. The claws are usually sold cooked and frozen.