King Crab season is a time to rejoice! Some of the most delicious seafood is readily available, and always at the best prices during peak season, but King Crab is a real winner across the board. Whether it’s simply for eating, or watching crabbers on The Deadliest Catch on television, there is a high demand for this sustainable seafood choice.
As one of the most indulgent seafood choices, we’re pleased to report that prices are holding firm. So take advantage, chef, because it’s prime time to catch these crustaceans, for an indulgent taste of their sweet, tender leg meat.
King Crab Sustainability
Did you know that every King Crab you eat is a dude?
When fishing for Alaska King Crab, there are many legal requirements that must be met in order to ensure stocks will remain plentiful from season to season. Most requirements state that they must meet certain size requirements, and maintain strict quota limits. Fisherman are also only allowed to keep the male king crabs measuring at least 6.5 inches wide in their body, while they toss females and juvenile crabs back into the ocean..
Crab quotas per fishery vary each year, and it is strictly dependent upon crab populations. Be forewarned, however, that Alaskan King Crab quotas are down 53% in 2019, and have seen a steady decline since stocks were at an all time high in the 80’s. While that may seem ominous, rest assured that they still have some of the best ratings for sustainability .
The Seafood Watch program by Monterey Bay aquarium ranks the The Red King Crab from the U.S. Pacific and Alaska is one of the top choices for sustainability. While there are many that rank “Good,” such as the dungeness crab, we try to encourage chefs to use the best available, as a part of our commitment to sustainability.
Of course, it all boils down to a matter of taste.
Why Do We Only Eat King Crab Legs?
One thing is for sure, the cannot regenerate legs like stone crabs regenerate their claws! Be that as it may, you may find yourself wondering what exactly happens with all those crab bodies. The short answer: there really isn’t much meat on King Crab bodies.
You will get the most bang for your buck on legs, alone. King Crab is usually brought to shore –alive!– and promptly cooked and distributed. Legs are sold wholesale, and bodies are often sold to crab cannery companies, or even used to develop crab flavor, extracting every last drop of the crab. These by-products are often used to flavor everything from cat food to snack foods.
However, it is not impossible to get whole King Crab. They’re mostly shipped to Asian communities along the West Coast. However, many chefs these days have become enlightened to the idea of procuring whole King Crab, alive and well.
Try going after that bad boy with a cleaver.