How To Steam Your Crab Legs For The Most Tender Meat

crab legs
crab legs - Grusho Anna/Shutterstock

One of the reasons we love crab legs so much is the sheer joy that comes from successfully retrieving a beautifully plump piece of meat from the shell. Crab legs are sweet, succulent, and mild, yet have a rich mouthfeel similar to lobster. They can be boiled or steamed, and while there are pros and cons to each cooking method for crabs, we love steaming crab legs for the most mouthwatering and tender meat. How easy is that? As easy as pulling out a pot and a steamer basket.

Unless you've caught the crab yourself, you're eating flash-frozen legs that have been pre-cooked. Essentially you're heating up the crab legs, but there's more to the process than simply taking them from cold to hot. By steaming the crab legs, you allow moisture into the meat, retaining the sweet taste and above all, the texture. Overcooking crab, like most seafood, can significantly alter the meat, resulting in a rubbery texture. Because of this, boiling crab can be a risk/reward situation. You can infuse the flavor of the seasoning you use into the crab legs, but the risk of overcooking them increases. With steaming, the water stays below the crab legs, and won't directly boil the previously cooked meat. This will not only help retain the sweet flavor of the crab, but it will make it easier to remove it from the shell. If your crab legs are thawed (which we recommend) the steaming process should only take 4 to 5 minutes.

Read more: 15 Different Ways To Cook Fish

A Good Steam Bath And The Right Tools

steamed crab pot
steamed crab pot - Mphillips007/Getty Images

Whether you're steaming king or snow crab legs, the method is the same. The only difference will be timing; king crab legs will take a few minutes longer than snow crab legs.

You'll need a large stock pot with a lid and a sizeable steaming basket. Fill the pot with a couple of inches of water and season the water with seafood seasoning or spices of your choice. After placing the crab legs into the pot, bring the water to a low boil and steam the crab legs for 4 to 5 minutes for snow, and 6 to 10 minutes for king. If you were unable to thaw them, keep them in a few minutes longer. Remove them from the heat and allow them to cool to a manageable temperature.

Here are some added tips for maximum crackability: Snow crabs are softer than king crabs, but for less mess and more ease, serve the crab legs with a crab cracker, or a nutcracker. For the most success at meat retrieval, crack your crab legs at the joints, then do a clean break in the middle of the leg and savor the tender reward.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.