King crab legs, which typically come from long-legged Alaskan king crabs, are a delicacy that can instantly elevate any meal. These otherworldly creatures can reach leg spans of up to 6 feet. Their natural habitat is in and near the Bering Strait, the body of water between the US and Russia.
Alaskan king crabs have a distinct red color and a unique body shape. The main body shell can span nearly one foot across — leaving no doubt as to why they are the king of crabs. The largest male king crab recorded weighed in at 24 pounds, while the largest female weighed 10.5 pounds.
Altogether, there are more than 40 types of king crab living in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, with most species generally preferring colder environments. The Alaskan king crab, also known as the red king crab is found in the waters around Alaska.
King crabs are born in shallow waters, but travel deeper as they age, motivated by more appropriate food sources. They return to shallow waters to mate, starting the cycle all over again.
The Alaskan state government heavily regulates the local fishing industry for sustainability. Since the state's waters supply more than half of the total seafood for the entire country, regulations are necessary in order for the industry to thrive for years to come. Crab fishing season in Alaska is typically just a few months in fall and winter.
During open season, crab fishers put their lives on the line to get a great catch. They set big steel traps baited with fish or squid on the ocean floor for up to 24 hours, in the hopes that a large male will walk in. After hauling in the traps, crab fishers generally only keep large males — typically those wider in length than 6.5 inches.
What Sets King Crabs Apart?
King crabs have an incredible combination of size and taste. While often compared to snow crabs due to their long legs, king crabs have a unique flavor and texture. Their meat is softer and more delicate than crabs from the east coast and has an almost sweet taste. Plus, since no fish farming is allowed in Alaska, you’ll know your king crab is wild and sustainably caught.
How to Prepare King Crab Legs
There are several different ways to prepare king crab legs, depending on your preference:
- Bake in the oven with plenty of butter, olive oil and seasoning.
- Steam in a large pot with a steamer basket, using a little water, sliced lemons and garlic.
- Grill, while basting with butter, or wrapped in aluminum foil coated in butter and seasonings.
- Boil directly in a large pot of hot water.
Serve with butter for dipping and your favorite sides, like corn-on-the-cob or roasted potatoes.
How to Store and Preserve King Crab Legs
Keep your king crab legs frozen until you're ready to eat them, then rinse the legs with warm water for a few minutes to defrost. Once cooked, they can stay in the fridge for a few days, but are best enjoyed as soon as possible.
Hungry yet? Place your order for Alaskan king crab legs today and get cooking.