Dungeness Vs King Crab: Which Is The Better Buy?

Dungeness crabs on board
Dungeness crabs on board - Tab1962/Getty Images

Crab is one of those meals that feels truly special for seafood lovers. Shrimp may be more common, and lobster may be viewed as more decadent, but among crustaceans, it's crab that the true aficionados gravitate toward. Its subtle flavors can really sing when a chef knows what they're doing with it -- even if breaking down a crab can be a hassle.

But not all crabs are created equal. There are many types of crab, from snow crab to Chesapeake blue crab and stone crab (in Japan, spider crab is also popular). But there are two that tend to have an outsized reputation: Dungeness crab and King crab. Though these crabs look nothing alike, they're widely regarded by crab lovers as two of the best options available.

So which is the best value, and which tastes better? Well, there's not an easy answer to that question. As with many other types of food, the answer to "Which of this variety should you buy?" really comes down to personal preference and what you're making. Much like with steak, where filet mignon isn't always a better choice than a simple sirloin, the right choice will vary based on the needs of the person and the dish.

Read more: 12 Underrated Types Of Fish You Should Try At Least Once

Both Types Of Crab Have Their Strengths And Weaknesses

fisherman holding king crab
fisherman holding king crab - Lightasafeather/Getty Images

Understanding a few things about Dungeness and King crab is important so you know when you might want one instead of the other. The two don't even have that much in common; aside from their basic taxonomy as crabs, the only significant similarity is how both turn red when you cook them (the same thing that happens to all crustaceans). Both are caught in the Pacific, but not quite in all the same places. Dungeness crab is found from Alaska down to Mexico, while King crab is exclusively caught off the Alaskan coast. King crab fishing is, for this reason, usually considered the most dangerous job in America.

As far as which you're going to want, that depends on taste and what time of year it is. Dungeness crabs are caught from December to July, while King crabs are caught between October and January. So if it's springtime, the Dungeness will likely be much fresher than the King.

Dungeness And King Crab Also Go In Different Dishes

crab legs on board
crab legs on board - Foodio/Shutterstock

The actual taste of the crab is another factor that you should go with. King crab legs -- the best part of the crab -- are often compared to lobster for their tender texture and rich, sweet taste. That's a great thing -- if you're just eating crab legs. But if you're making some sort of preparation like crab cakes, a crab dip, or a seafood soup, you might want Dungeness instead. That's because Dungeness crab gives delicious meat from both the legs and the body, with a nuttier and slightly less rich flavor than King crab. This means that Dungeness is not as likely to overpower the flavors it's paired with and that King crab legs should be allowed to shine on their own.

There's no wrong choice here; Dungeness and King crab are both delicious choices for a seafood dinner. It all comes down to what you want and need -- just maybe leave the imitation crab to the side.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.