Why You Should Skip Canned Crab For Stuffed Flounder

When you make a decadent dish like flounder stuffed with crab meat, both seafood ingredients are equally important. For the crab, you might simply grab a canned option because it's easier to find and is typically more affordable. We definitely understand the logic, but we have a strong case for why you should skip canned crab when you're using it to stuff flounder. And don't worry, our solution doesn't involve picking the meat out of a whole crab.

"I like the crab that you buy in the seafood section in the containers, not the canned crab in the aisle of the store," says Stephanie Rapone, the Tasting Table recipe developer who created our original stuffed flounder recipe. These containers of crab will still be more affordable, and a lot less work, than buying fresh whole crabs.

Rapone talks about another perk, too, saying, "It is already cooked and picked from the crab for you, but doesn't go through the same preservation process as the crab in the aisle." In fact, because canned crab is usually full of preservatives, its color can turn blue, black, or gray if it's packed for a while, which does not look appealing when it's stuffed in fresh fish. It will also lack the slightly sweet flavor and buttery texture found in fresher crab meat.

Making stuffed flounder with fresh crab

To find this type of prepared fresh crab meat, head to the refrigerated section near the seafood counter, where grocers keep pre-packaged items like seafood salad and shrimp cocktail. It should be in a plastic container with a label advertising lump crabmeat or jumbo lump crabmeat. The label will also share where it's sourced from, which will likely be somewhere local. In comparison, the canned option might come from overseas, and in some areas of the world, the seafood industry and fishing methods aren't regulated as carefully. To be fair, you can find ethically sourced canned crab, but it will still lack the flavor and texture of fresh. And make sure to avoid imitation crab, which is bright red and does not come from crabs at all.

Before you mix the crab meat with the other ingredients, carefully drain off any excess liquid. Apart from that, it should be ready to go depending on the brand and variation. But do double-check and remove any pieces of shell or cartilage. Then mix it with the other filling ingredients like crackers, mayonnaise, and seasonings. Be careful not to over-mix it or the crab pieces will turn into shreds.

And just in case you still have canned crab in the back of your pantry, it's far better when used for dishes like crab cakes or dip.