King Crab Legs at home [Split from L.A. board]
[The Chowhound Team split this cooking discussion from its original location on the Los Angeles board. To find crab legs in L.A. go here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/335249
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Alaskan king crab is so easy to make at home that none of the chefs I know will pay the restaurant markup. The three keys are freshness, preparation, and dipping sauce. Here are the steps:
1) Purchase four pounds of quality frozen Alaskan king crab legs from a local vendor. There are a number of seafood specialty groceries in OC and LA, but I've had great luck at my neighborhood Albertson's. I made friends with the guy in charge of their fish counter, and he always let me know when they get a new shipment of Alaskan king crab legs and how long anything has been in the case. Choose a place you trust, or one with a good rep. In this case, frozen is best, since frozen crabs are cooked and flash frozen within scant hours of their capture, and are thus more fresh than raw crab, which is difficult to ship.
2) Get a pot large enough to hold the crab legs. I would suggest a 10 quart stock pot or larger with lid.
3) Bring 3-4 quarts of water, 1/4 cup of sea salt, three whole bay leaves, and the juice of half a large lemon to a roiling boil. (You can replace the salt and the bay leaves with 1/3 cup of Old Bay should you so desire.)
4) While the water is heating, make the sauce by sweating a large, thinly diced leek in a saucepan over medium heat with a tablespoon of vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons of salt. Once the leek has become clear, stir in 8 tablespoons (one stick) of unsalted butter and turn the heat to low.
5) Add the crab legs and cover it with the lid. Let the pot come back up to a boil (no more that 5 minutes). The crab was already cooked during processing, so you're just sterilizing the surface, seasoning it, and bringing it up to eating temperature.
6) Remove the king crab legs from the pot and immediately immerse in lightly salted, iced water to prevent over cooking.
7) Once the crab legs are cool enough to handle, cut them into six inch segments using a large cleaver. Then split the shells along one side using heavy kitchen shears to allow for easy removal for your guests.
Serve with dipping sauce on the side. A good accompaniment would be a green salad with a light vinaigrette and a toasted French baguette.
Serves 4-6 people. Enjoy.