Hard Shell or Soft Shell, It's All Good
Crab is yet another American innovation in gourmet food. The oldest crab industry in the world is the Chesapeake Bay blue crab industry. Crab makes a delicious gourmet platter, often served with garlic butter and enjoyed by gourmands the world over.
Two basic kinds of crab are river and ocean. Most crab purchased and eaten comes from the ocean. Both Atlantic and Pacific crab are popular, and depending on opinion, gourmets claim allegiance to either kind. The Alaskan King Crab is the largest, yielding over 5 lbs. of meat.
Crab can be purchased live or frozen. Except for the head, all parts of the crab are edible. The shell is easily lifted from the torso. Legs and claws can be split, using a nutcracker or knife, the meat pulled easily from the shell. Crab can also be purchased canned, which is ideal in some recipes.
Crabs such as the King Crab are flash frozen at their source to lock in freshness before they are shipped anywhere in the world. They are often pre-cooked as well (giving crab a bright pinkish orange color), so all the preparation needed is to heat them. The microwave can even be used.
Live crab can also be purchased, even over the Internet, and is cooked for six to 10 minutes in boiling water. Some people prefer continental-caught crab, because they feel that fresher is better, though this is a matter of opinion.
Other popular kinds of crab are the Dungeness and tanner, from Alaska, horseshoe crabs and coconut crabs.
Like other shellfish, crab makes a unique gourmet gift. Aside from the crabmeat, crab cakes and other gourmet crabmeat treats like crab au gratin are also wonderful.