Perfect King Crab Legs
Taverna Opa's Steamed King Crab Legs Recipe

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King Crab Legs are already cooked when you purchase them. King crab legs are cooked on the fishing boats or immediately upon landfall to preserve freshness (the crab is caught, cooked, then blast frozen to preserve its fresh taste). Because of this, King Crab need only to be adequately heated before eating. Remember, that unless you have purchased a live king crab, the king crab legs have already been cooked.

Fresh King Crab Legs: Only if you leave near a crabbing community will you get fresh, raw crab legs.

Amount of King Crab Legs to Purchase: Purchase 8 ounces to 1 pound per person.

Frozen King Crab Legs: It is recommended that crab legs thaw overnight in your refrigerator. If you are in a big hurry, king crab can be thawed under cold running water to speed this up. If you place them on a rack in a watertight container, they can drain as they are defrosting.

Storage: Thawed crab legs can be maintained in the refrigerator for two days, but they should really be cooked as soon as they have been defrosted if possible.

King Crab Legs

King Crab Legs

Check out more of Linda's great Crab Recipes and Appetizer Recipes for more great cooking ideas

How To Prepare Perfect King Crab Legs:

Preparing king crab is usually just a matter of using your preferred reheating method. There are a variety of ways to reheat king crab. Steaming, microwaving, and oven baking are among the most common. With these methods, king crab only takes only 4 to 10 minutes to reheat:

Steam Preparation: Let the water in the bottom of the steamer pot come to a boil, then I add the crab legs in the steamer and cover. The crabs will be heated through when you can smell them. I also pick one up with a tong and touch the meaty part just to be sure that it is indeed warm. The best way to get at the meat is to use scissors. I use the kitchen shears that come with knife sets but you can buy one at any kitchen supply store by itself. Just break the crab apart at the obvious places and then cut down the middle. I also have but is not necessary a glove in case the crab is really hot or if it is very spiny.

Oven Preparation: Arrange in shallow baking pan. Add just enough hot water to fill pan 1/8 inch deep. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees F. until just heated through, approximately 7 to 10 minutes.

Microwave Preparation: Add crab legs to a microwave-safe container. Add 1 tablespoon water per 8 ounces of crab legs. Microwave on high 3 to 4 minutes per 8 ounces of crab legs. Serve with lemon wedges, clarified butter and use nutcrackers to open shells.

Boiling: Boiling is not recommended for king crab legs. This is because the meat is so delicate in flavor that cooking it directly in water or using a crab boil can destroy the delicious flavors.

Serving Cold: Defrost at room temperature for a crab salad or serve cold with Hollandaise Sauce or Clarified Butter.

Clarified butter: To learn how to make clarified butter, check out Butter Ghee and Clarified Butter. Clarified butter is also called drawn butter. Simply defined, clarified butter and ghee are translucent golden butterfat left over after the milk solids and water are removed. In short, clarified butter is just butter that contains only pure butterfat. It has a higher smoke point than regular butter, thus allowing you to be able to cook at higher temperatures, and won't spoil as quickly. The advantages of this type of butter is its long keeping quality (several months refrigerated) and its high smoke point (can be used in frying without burning). The disadvantage is that it doesn't have that same wonderful rich flavor of regular unsalted butter (since the milk solids have been removed) but it does have a more buttery taste than other oils.

Taverna Opa's Steamed King Crab Legs Recipe:
Recipe and photo from the Taverna Opa Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Steamed King Crab Legs

Recipe Type: Crab, Seafood, Seafood Appetizers
Yields: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 10 minutes

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 cups (24 ounces) fish stock*
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds cooked and chilled King Crab legs and claws, cracked and legs cut in half crosswise
1/2 cup 80-proof vodka, room temperature

*The restaurant chef make his own fish stock for heating the claws, but for the home cook, using the shelf-stable boxed variety from the supermarket is much easier and works fine.


Melt butter in a large skillet with cover over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook 1 1/2 minutes, until aromatic; do not let it burn. Add fish stock, salt, pepper and crab legs. Cover and simmer 6 minutes.

flambeThis may have to be done in batches if they don't all fit into the pan at one time. If done in batches, remove the heated legs from the pan and keep them warm until all are heated through. If done in batches, repeat until all are heated.

When the last batch of crab legs are heated in the pan, remove cover, and reduce heat to medium high. Add the vodka around the sides of the pan and let the vodka warm. Ignite the vodka with a match. Learn How To Flambé safely.

Once the flame subsides, serve crab legs with pan juices over them and a dish of melted butter for dipping.

Makes 4 servings.


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