If you're looking for a tactile experience for your family's dinner in addition to a tasty one, grab some king crab legs. Genuine Alaskan king crab is one of the priciest and best-loved of all shellfish. The unusually large, sweet-fleshed legs are usually processed immediately on the fishing boats, where they are cooked and quickly frozen in light brine to preserve their fresh flavor. Because the legs are precooked, they require only reheating before they are served. Easy to fit into your busy schedule, the legs free you to focus on the side dishes.
All along the Eastern seaboard, one of the traditional ways to eat crab is the festive crab boil. This requires gathering a few dozen of your closest friends around a large pot, where crabs are boiled in highly seasoned water along with new potatoes, ears of corn and pieces of sausage. The crab and vegetables absorb flavors from the sausage and the crab boil seasoning and are usually served with butter. Simulate a crab boil at home by cooking the potatoes, sausage and corn in a pot with crab boil seasoning, then dropping in the frozen crab legs for the last few minutes of cooking.
Thawed and reheated king crab legs are ideal for picnic eating, either hot or cold, because they are quintessential picnic food. Serve them whole or cut into smaller portions with two or three kinds of salad, such as a spinach tossed salad with creamy dressing and potato salad, soft rolls, lemonade and some cold cuts for those who aren't keen on seafood. If you're serving the crab legs hot, set out some clarified butter for dipping. If they're cold, opt for a spicy ranch dressing for dipping or a tangy, strongly flavored mayonnaise.
Seafood is heavily featured in almost every Asian cuisine, and the sweet flavor of king crab lends itself to most Asian-themed preparations. Roll long strips of leg meat in rice paper wrappers with lettuce, herbs and julienne vegetables, and serve them with a zesty lime and chili dipping sauce. Add pieces of thawed king crab leg to your favorite stir-fry just before serving, long enough to be warm but not long enough to toughen or fall apart. King crab can also be used in spring rolls or dumplings, or to garnish your favorite Asian soup.
The classic repertoire contains a number of side dishes and sauces that go well with crab. King crab's sweet, lean legs can be paired up with rich dishes such as potatoes gratin or cauliflower browned in white sauce, under buttered breadcrumbs. Alternatively, build the whole meal around light, clean flavors. Try wrapping new, small green beans or julienne vegetables in parchment paper with herbs and a small pat of butter, and bake them until tender. Toss slender asparagus stalks with olive oil and sea salt and roast them until tender and slightly charred. Another good accompaniment is steamed artichokes.
- "Professional Cooking"; Wayne Gisslen; 2003
- "Larousse Gastronomique"; Prosper Montagne; 1961
- Food Network; Firehouse Crab Boil; Emeril Lagasse; 2004
- Food Network; Salad Rolls; Kathleen Daelemans
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