Monday, March 14, 2011

How to Cook Alaskan King Crab .....Steamed on a Silky Smooth Egg Custard

This is the continuation of my series on Alaskan King Crab (AKC)
The Alaskan King Crab season is at it’s peak in Vancouver….right now! 
If you have not had a chance to try this succulent delicacy, now would be the time.  It is priced at the lowest point around $10 per pound.  Not exactly cheap, but much more affordable and oh so worth it........even if just once in your life!  
Out of season, the price per pound is upwards of $30/pound.  The season in Vancouver is short, running from mid February to around the end of March.  After this week, prices will likely start to increase. So don't wait......just do it!  [after this, we go on diets and wait for the start up of Spot Prawn season:-)]

Chinese restaurants all over town are offering Alaska King Crab specials, if you prefer to go that route.
However, it is not that difficult to cook AKC at home……so if you are feeling adventurous, try these Chinese style recipes.  They are tried and true and the results were just as good (if not better) as any restaurant version we have had. I will be happy to answer any of your cooking questions.

Live, whole Alaskan King Crab is nothing similar to it’s frozen counterpart.  Frozen, albeit at sea, Alaskan King Crab legs….. you know what I mean……those huge frozen king crab legs you get in Las Vegas at all the higher end buffets…..they’re OK, but if you’re like me, really it’s the drawn butter that you are tasting.  The crab legs, though pretty decent quality, have a different texture and taste after they have been frozen and kinda act like the carrier for warm clarified butter.

Fresh live Alaskan King Crab is somewhat reminiscent of live lobster meat.  The texture and taste of this delicate sweet meat though, really stands in a class of it’s own.

Buy a crab that is 8 lbs or bigger, otherwise the crab legs will not be meaty and you are essentially paying for the shell. Tell the fish monger that you will be steaming your crab and have them dress it for 
you.  Most places will chopped it up and prepare the legs, by splitting them in half.  
If they are not willing to split the legs for not fear.  This is pretty easy to do, just use a good pair of kitchen shears and cut lenghtwise up the shell.  You want to end up with the legs cut in half with meat on both sides of the shell.

An 8 lb crab will be enough for 4-6 people.  This would be my advice if you are eating this in a restaurant as well.  The smaller crabs are not really worth the money as you end up paying for the weight of the shell.

In our original feast (see post here), we prepared our 8 lb crab 3 ways.  Steamed with Garlic, Chinese style (recipe here) and Deep Fried with Garlic and Chili, often referred to as Deep Fried with Salt and Pepper (Spicy) in Asian Restaurants. (recipe here)

Today’s recipe is an original creation of A Wok in the Tuscan Kitchen inspired by our recent trip to China and a 2010 Chinese Restaurant Award winning dish.

Similar to the Steamed with Garlic version, the succulent sweet crabmeat really shines through in this preparation.  This delicate but flavorful dish was definitely the surprise hit of our feast.  The taste and texture of the crab was incredible and the silky smooth egg custard flavored with the crab juices accompanied with a bowl of rice was just sheer perfection.  If you've had steamed egg on rice as a child, think of this as the grown up version.  Comfort and decadence all at the same time. 

Still to be posted is the recipe for Yee Mein (noodles) braised with the sauces left over from the previous recipes.  Check back as they will be posted soon!

A Wok in the Tuscan Kitchen presents..........
Alaskan King Crab Legs steamed on a Silky Egg Custard

8 lb Alaskan King crab, cut into pieces, legs butterflied
1 1/2 Tsp salt
White pepper (black pepper is not recommended)

Using a large mixing bowl, combine above ingredients. Toss or mix gently to ensure each piece of crab is coated and seasoned.  Set aside.

Silky Egg Custard

3 extra large eggs (if using large, use 4 eggs)
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 Tsp light soy sauce
1 Tsp. Oyster Sauce
1 Tsp Sesame Oil
Cold, boiled water, approx 1/2 cup

Gently beat the eggs in a large measuring cup (3-4 cup capacity).
Add the remaining ingredients and top with water to make 2 ½ cups total.
Very gently stir the mixture (chopsticks work the best).  You want to combine the mixture without creating any air bubbles….so mix as gently as possible.  Air bubbles result in an undesirable texture.  If you happen to get a lot of air bubbles in your mixture, strain the mixture as you pour into the dish for cooking.

Bring the water in your steamer to a rolling boil.
Arrange the Alaskan King Crab legs with the cut side up on a deep platter that has a ridge at least 2 inches deep.

Drain any juices from the crab into the egg mixture. Gently stir to mix.
Slowly pour the egg mixture into the bottom of the platter.  Pour at the side of the platter and avoid splashing up onto the crab pieces.  The egg mixture needs to settle under the crab legs. (do not be tempted to dump the mixture over the crab!)

Alaskan King Crab with Egg Custard, just before steaming

Place the platter into the boiling steamer.  Cover with the lid and turn the heat down to medium.  The egg custard needs to have a slow gentle steam.  A heavy steam will create a tough custard.

Continue to steam until the custard sets and the crabmeat becomes opaque, approximately 12 – 15 minutes. Jiggle the platter to check if the egg custard has set.  Remove from the steamer.

To serve, drizzle ½ tsp of soy sauce onto the custard.  Serve with rice.

Fresh Alaskan King Crab steamed on a Silky Smooth Egg Custard

For presentation purposes, I also steamed the shell at the same time.
Typically in restaurants, the shell is used to hold fried rice topped with a light curry-Portguese Sauce, which is baked.

For a lighter variation of the baked rice dish, soak 2 bundles of vermicelli noodles or mung bean thread until softened (20-30 minutes)
Drain the vermicelli and lightly toss with; 1 tsp chicken stock powder or salt,  1 tsp soy sauce, finely julienned ginger and a couple of drops of sesame oil. 

Place the noodles in the uncooked shell and steam for 15 -20 minutes.  Garnish with scallions and cilantro.


  1. you make this sound so easy, good instructions. I'm almost [ha,ha] tempted to try and cook this on my own.

  2. Hi MG....
    I think you should try it.....really not that difficult.

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