The Best Type Of Dishes To Make With Crab Claw Meat

Crab has been on the menu in North America for thousands of years. According to historians at the Smithsonian Institute, who studied Native American and European colonial sites dating back as far as 1,200 BCE, evidence of the consumption of crabs is more prevalent than once thought. Specifically, the research looked into the remains of blue crabs, which have been found at more than 900 sites in the Atlantic coast region. It's no wonder that steamed crabs remains a Maryland staple to this day, notes Only in Your State

When it comes to what crab is best to eat, diners and cooks have a lot of choices to make. As the Alaskan King Crab Co. points out, the different species of crab have their own subtle flavor profiles and differences. Snow crab meat is a bit briny, while king crabs have a richer sweetness. Stone crabs trend sweet with a hint of ocean flavor.

Beyond the various species, there is also a choice to be made in regard to the grades of crab meat. Much like the cuts of land animals, these grades indicate where on the animal the meat originated. Prized jumbo lump crab meat comes from the swimming muscles. The more common lump is a mix of jumbo lump meat and meat from the body. Unique, though, is the claw meat, says Cook's Illustrated, which has a high-fat content and concentrated crab flavor.

Simple and sublime

The most straightforward preparation for crab claws is to do as little as possible to them. They are sought-after for their unabashed crab flavor, so it stands to reason that getting out of the way is a much-suggested tack.

Tip Buzz has a rundown on how to select and prepare the proper crab claws for varying tastes. They suggest going with Stone Crab claws or those of Jonah Crabs. Stone Crabs are typically caught off Florida's Atlantic coast part of the year and along the West Coast (where they are called rock crabs) year-round. Slightly less expensive Jonah Crabs are taken closer to New England.

Most claws, they note, are sold pre-cooked and frozen, so all that is needed is a thaw in room-temperature water for a few hours. They can then be served chilled or warmed, which they suggest is best done in a steamer. As to accompaniments, chilled generally pair well with a bracingly sharp cocktail sauce, and warmed-through crab claws — like many of their crustacean counterparts — do well with a quick dip in warm butter, possibly flavored with lemon zest and fresh herbs, notes Wonderful Cook.

If you're looking to jazz your crab claws up even further, MyRecipes suggests adding garlic and green onion for a bit more assertive flavor and bacon for a smoky richness.

Soup's on

Crab goes quite well in a number of soups, especially a filling chowder. Our recipe for Crab and Corn Chowder amplifies crab's inherent sweetness with the addition of corn. The dish is rounded out with potato, carrot, chive, chicken stock, and crème fraîche, and though it can be made with any type of crab meat you have on hand, claw meat will result in an unparalleled depth of flavor.

For the cold winter months, another warming seafood soup that springs to mind is bisque. These creamy purees can be made from a variety of seafood, from salmon to shrimp, but crab is a classic star ingredient. The high-fat content of crab claws, coupled with a stock made from the crab's crushed, roasted shells, renders a luscious, velvety soup with a shellfish taste that doesn't waiver in the presence of butter, cream, and white wine.

Fried and rolled

Sort of a hybrid between the austerity of the first two recipes and the decadence of the latter two, Food Network offers up a seafood shack staple found in coastal communities: fried crab claws. Using crab claws that have just the tips of the shell left on, the meat is dipped in egg and milk before being dredged in crunchy cornmeal and pepper before frying in lard. The result is a hearty and decadent appetizer.

If, however, deep-frying isn't your thing, then take a tip from the seafood company Royal Greenland – the name is a nod to the royal warrant they hold from the Danish crown — and try crab claw sushi rolls. This maki includes meat from snow crab claws and clusters as well as spring onion, cucumber, nori, red and yellow peppers, and a hint of mayonnaise for fat. And make sure to save a crab claw shell if you can, as it makes an arresting garnish alongside the sliced roll.