What are red crabs?
Red crabs, also known as red rock crabs or spiny stone crabs, are a type of crab found in the waters of the northwest Pacific Ocean. They get their name from their bright reddish-orange shell color. Red crabs have a wide, oval shaped shell and two large front claws with black tips. They are a popular type of crab used for food due to their sweet, delicious meat.
Are red crabs edible?
Yes, red crabs are edible and considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. Their meat is sweet, tender and similar in taste and texture to blue crab. The claws contain the most substantial amount of meat, but crabbers and chefs use the leg meat and body meat as well. In Japan, red crab is known as beni-zuwai-gani and is highly prized for its flavor.
What is the best way to cook red crabs?
There are many great ways to cook red crabs to bring out their naturally sweet, briny flavor. Here are some of the most popular cooking methods:
– Steaming – Steaming is a simple, healthy way to prepare red crabs that retains moisture and flavor. Place live or thawed crabs in a steamer pot and steam for 8-12 minutes until the shell turns bright orange. This method works best for cooking whole crabs.
– Boiling – Boiling red crabs allows their flavor to infuse into the cooking liquid, which can then be used to make crab stock. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add live crabs and boil for 8-15 minutes until shells are orange. Drain and serve.
– Sautéing – Try sautéing crab meat in butter or olive oil with garlic, lemon, parsley and other herbs and spices. Sauté crab claws for 3-4 minutes on each side until heated through. The high heat helps caramelize the natural sweetness.
– Grilling – Grilling is an excellent way to add smoky flavor to red crabs. Grill crab legs, bodies or claws in the shells for 2-3 minutes per side. Brush with olive oil or butter beforehand to keep moist. Grilled crab pairs well with fresh lemon.
– Baking – For baked crab, stuff the shells with a crabmeat mixture or simply place crab legs on a baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes until hot and bubbly. Drizzle with lemon butter or spices after baking.
– Crab cakes – Mix cooked crab meat with bread crumbs, egg, mayonnaise, Old Bay seasoning and other binders to make delicious crab cakes. Pan fry until golden brown or bake in the oven.
What tools do you need to cook red crabs?
Cooking red crabs properly requires having a few essential tools on hand:
– Large pot for boiling or steaming
– Steamer basket or insert for steaming whole crabs
– Sharp kitchen shears or scissors for cracking shells
– Small hammer or crab mallet for cracking legs and claws
– Seafood cracker for cracking claws and getting to the meat
– Small picks for pulling meat out of tight spaces
– Sharp chef’s knife for cutting and chopping
– Cutting board
– Mixing bowls for making crab cakes or stuffings
– Baking sheet for oven roasting
– Saute pan, grill pan or grill for sautéing, grilling
Having the right tools makes it easier to access all the sweet crab meat inside the hard shell. Investing in a good seafood cracker and crab mallet is a must for enjoying red crab.
What are some red crab recipe ideas?
Here are just a few delicious recipe ideas for cooking red crab:
– Baked crab dip – Mix cooked crab with cream cheese, cheddar, seasonings and bake until bubbly. Serve with crackers or crusty bread.
– Crab cakes – Pan fry or bake mini crab cakes made with lump crab meat, bread crumbs, egg and spices.
– Crab stuffed mushrooms – Fill mushroom caps with crabmeat, breadcrumbs, garlic, cheese and bake until hot.
– Crab boils – Boil red crabs, shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes in crab boil seasoning for a traditional seafood feast.
– Crab omelets – Make omelets with crab meat, spinach, tomatoes and cheese for a protein-packed breakfast.
– Crab stir fry – Stir fry crab meat with veggies like beans, peppers, bok choy in a garlic ginger sauce. Serve over rice.
– Crab alfredo – Toss crab meat with fettuccine, Parmesan, heavy cream and seasonings for a decadent pasta dish.
Soups and Salads
– Crab bisque – Purée crab meat, cream, broth, sherry and seasonings into a velvety, rich soup.
– Crab louie salad – Chill poached crab meat and serve on salad greens with hard boiled egg, avocado, tomatoes and louie dressing.
– Crab cocktail – Chill cooked crab meat in a cocktail sauce of ketchup, horseradish and lemon. Serve in shells or cups.
– Cheesy crab stuffed potatoes – Scoop out baked potatoes and stuff with a cheesy crab mixture.
– Crab mac and cheese – Mix cooked crab meat into cheesy macaroni and cheese casserole.
– Crab stuffed mushrooms – Fill large mushroom caps with crabmeat, cheese, herbs and bake until hot and melted.
What are some tips for buying and storing red crabs?
Follow these tips for selecting and storing red crabs:
– Look for crabs with a bright orange shell. This indicates they were cooked live right before selling.
– Choose crabs that feel heavy for their size and smell ocean-fresh, not fishy.
– Avoid cracked shells or crabs with parts missing. Make sure the crab is intact.
– Cook live crabs within a few hours of purchasing for best flavor and texture.
– Store cooked crab meat tightly wrapped in the refrigerator and use within 2 days. Freeze for longer storage.
– Place live crabs in a damp paper bag or damp newspaper until ready to cook. They will survive out of water for several hours.
– Store live crabs in a bucket or pot with cool, damp newspaper over the top. Place in the refrigerator.
– Cook frozen crab within 2-3 months for optimal quality. Thaw in the refrigerator before cooking.
Proper selection and storage helps maintain the fresh taste and texture of red crabs. Make sure to cook them soon after purchase or freezing.
What are some substitutes if you can’t find red crab?
If you can’t find red crab, here are some suitable substitutions:
– Snow crab – Snow crab legs have a similar sweet, tender meat. Just adjust cooking times slightly.
– King crab – King crab has a very similar flavor, texture and larger size meat.
– Dungeness crab – While more tightly grained, dungeness crab has the quintessential crab flavor.
– Blue crab – Not an exact substitute but blue crab also has sweet delicate meat. Just adjust recipe amounts.
– Lobster – Cooked lobster meat makes a good flavor and texture substitute in crab recipes.
– Shrimp – Small cooked shrimp can work as a pinch hitter in certain crab dishes and salads.
– Surimi – For crab cakes or stuffings, use shredded surimi seafood for the crab flavor.
– Extra seafood – Add more clams, mussels, scallops or oysters to a recipe to make up for the lack of crab.
While nothing quite compares to red crab, there are many acceptable substitutes that work well when red crab isn’t available.
What kind of recipes pair well with red crab?
Red crab’s rich, briny flavor pairs perfectly with certain ingredients and flavors. Here are some of the best matches:
– Butter – Butter helps bring out the inherent sweetness and accentuates the texture. Use in sauces or for dipping.
– Lemon – A squeeze of lemon juice brightens up crab’s seafood flavor. Use lemon wedges for squeezing over the top.
– Garlic – Garlic adds an earthy background and works well when sautéing crab or making crab cakes.
– Chives – The mild onion flavor of chives complements crab without overpowering it. Use in sauces or garnishes.
– Old Bay – This classic crab seasoning contains paprika, celery salt and other spices that pair beautifully with crab.
– Wine – A white wine sauce made with butter and lemon makes an elegant accent for crab. Avoid oaky wines.
– Parsley – Fresh parsley leaves give a pop of green and reinforce the bright flavors of crab. Chop and sprinkle at the end.
– chili peppers – A small kick from red pepper flakes or sliced chiles can offset crab’s richness.
Pairing red crab with buttery, briny, herbal and spicy ingredients helps bring out its delicate sweet taste. Using these complementary flavors allows the crab to shine.
What are some common substitutes for Old Bay seasoning?
Old Bay seasoning is a signature crab spice blend but there are several suitable spice mix substitutes if you don’t have it on hand:
– Seafood seasoning – Many store-bought seafood seasoning blends have similar flavors to Old Bay. McCormick makes a version.
– Crab boil seasoning – Spice blends formulated for crab boils and shrimp boils make excellent stand-ins.
– Whitefish seasoning – Spice mixes designed for tilapia, cod and other whitefish work well with crab.
– Creole seasoning – The blend of paprika, thyme, cayenne and other spices complements crab beautifully.
– Homemade blend – Make your own by combining paprika, dry mustard, celery salt, bay leaf, black pepper and cayenne.
– Chili powder and cumin – A simple pinch of chili powder and cumin approximates the flavor profile.
– Curry powder – The blend of spices in curry powder pairs nicely with crab as well. Sprinkle lightly to season.
– Seafood herb blends – Many dried herb spice mixes designed for seafood include dill, tarragon and parsley.
With a range of commercial and homemade seasoning options, it’s easy to mimic Old Bay’s zesty profile on crab.
What are the health benefits of eating red crab?
Red crab offers several excellent health benefits:
– High protein – A serving of red crab contains over 30 grams of protein to build muscle, repair cells and supply energy.
– Low fat – Red crab meat is very low in fat, especially unhealthy saturated fat, making it a lean protein source.
– Vitamin B12 – Red crab supplies over 80% of your daily vitamin B12 needs which assists in nerve and cell health.
– Selenium – This mineral in crab supports thyroid function and helps protect cells from damage.
– Anti-inflammatory – Compounds in red crab may help reduce inflammation in the body linked to diseases.
– Omega-3s – While small amounts, red crab contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA.
– Choline – Red crab has choline which aids in nervous system, brain and cardiovascular health.
– Low calorie – With only around 100 calories per serving, crab makes a nutritious low calorie meal addition.
Enjoy red crab as part of a healthy diet to gain important protein, vitamins and minerals with few calories and little fat or carbs.
Red crab is a culinary delicacy that can be prepared in endless delicious ways. Its naturally sweet and tender meat pairs perfectly with butter, lemon and spices like Old Bay seasoning. While healthy and low in calories, red crab provides substantial protein, vitamins and minerals. An excellent substitute when red crab is unavailable is snow or king crab. Whether steamed, baked, sautéed or served in soups and salads, red crab is a prized ingredient in many global cuisines. With proper handling and storage, its unique briny flavor and texture can be enjoyed to the fullest.