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Am I Committing Crab Heresy?

I'm fairly new to cooking crab, since I grew up in Kansas, live in Denver now, and only recently bought a large steam pot and basket. I've been steaming Dungeness crabs every other month, when I'm near an Asian market to pick some up. I usually don't do anything but steam it with a crab boil and seasoning, because live crab is too expensive here to be doing anything other than letting the meat stand out on its own, although I typically use a clarified butter for dipping.

However, last night I cooked a snow crab cluster and used some leftover papa john's garlic butter sauce I had for dipping and it wasn't bad. I'm thinking about picking up more for a Dungeness cook for a few people tomorrow. I like it because it's easy and pretty tasty, though it is almost too thick and rich for crab.

My question: Has anybody or would anybody use chain pizza garlic butter for their crab? This is my first post on this site, so let me know if you like the idea, but I will not take offense to a good cursing out.

Also, any suggestions on what to do with the crab butter/mustard/tomalley would be appreciated. From what I understand, they are the same thing.

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  1. In my opinion, it doesn't matter if anyone else approves of your like of Papa's garlic butter; if you like it, keep using it. On another note, I used to work at Papa John's a long time ago and used their butter to make shrimp scampi. It was tasty...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cherylptw

      I agree -- you're the one eating it, so your opinion is all that matters (I agree that the PJ garlic butter is tasty, btw)

      I don't like the mustard -- I scoop or rinse it out, depending on how I'm using the meat. It seems to be one of those love/hate things -- and there's no shame in not eating it if you don't like it.

    2. Thanks for the replies so far. I agree that we all have our guilty pleasures, and in certain circumstances, we might as well indulge. I always cook to my taste when I'm only cooking for myself, but I am very self-conscious when cooking for others. Especially, when cooking seafood for my east-coast in-laws.

      1. I agree with the others... if you like it, go for it!

        1. the taste is fine, not heresy.

          For the crab innards, I like to put in a little salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Nom nom nom. I could also see putting in some chipotle salsa, chimichurri, or pesto.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jaykayen

            You could make a seafood pasta sauce and mix the tamalley in it.

          2. If you dust the crab with cocoa powder, you are committing crab Hershey.

            1 Reply
            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

              hot coffee hurts when you snort it up your nose.

            2. The chances are you are not getting 'real butter' from PJ's. No offense to them but in a restaurant chain that size using a 'butter-like' substance means a better bottom line. They all do it.
              We are able to set our crab traps out and catch Dungeness crabs whenever we want. Our favorite dipping sauce is 'brown butter' with a very small amount of finely chopped garlic added just as the 'ghee' butter is starting to brown. When the garlic is just coloring remove from the med heat and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of fine chopped Italian parsley. Put the crab pieces in a big bowl on a plastic table cloth. Provide medium size plates for your guests to 'play with' the crab. Warm wash cloths for everyone and individual bowls of hot finger water and a few pairs of shinny new/clean pliers to share and a BIG bowl of fresh sliced baguette and a couple of pitchers full of chilled Pinot Gris. A big bowl of mixed salad greens with a small amount of lemon juice and olive oil tossed in. Provide individual small salad bowls. If you were to have your guests put the salad on the same plate as the crab there's a good chance a little sharp piece of cracked crab bone could fall into the salad. You don't want the taste of the dressing to compete with the delicate flavor of the crab meat. Just make sure there's lots of crab or the whole experience will sort of fizzle It's sort of a two hours plus dinner. A 'melon-ball' desert with at least three types of melons . Drizzle the melon balls with honey and lemon/lime juice a couple of hours before serving. Refrigerate. After an hour or so carefully 'turn' the fruit salad to get the honey/lemon/lime mixed in. Tip: When you're trying to 'dig' the crab meat out use one of the 'pointy' ends of a crab claw is a 'winkle picker'. They work great. Enjoy!

              1. Er... do what you like, but why? It's margarine and garlic powder with water and cellulose or some modified starch.

                Just melt some butter or margaine and either add some chopped garlic or garlic powder. Much cheaper and no middle man.

                1. As others have said, if you like it, then go for it. Me personally, I just prefer real butter, melted. I love the sweet crab meat and I don't think I would want the garlic in there.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: AnnieWilliams

                    Let's see......one of the best highest quality seafoods on the planet served with a substance containing aluminum,nickel,solvents and 'coloring agents' etc. someone called margarine and powdered garlic. Yummy.

                    1. re: Puffin3

                      To my taste, I agree. It's not like melting butter is hard work. Even adding some mashed garlic cloves is easy. Hell, the OP should at least have some plain melted butter around for the sake of the guests.

                      Then, again, I don't eat food from corporate chains. Last time I tried PJ's garlic glop was probably around twenty years ago.

                      1. re: MGZ

                        I would agree in that If I had it laying around I might use it but Inwouldnt go out of my way to get it. I would not serve it to guests but for me at home maybe.


                    If you enjoy it, use it. Period. Never succumb to the advice of the masses when it comes to preference. They ain't eating it.

                    1. Quote: I cooked a snow crab cluster and used some leftover papa john's garlic butter sauce I had for dipping and it wasn't bad. I'm thinking about picking up more for a Dungeness cook for a few people tomorrow. I like it because it's easy and pretty tasty, though it is almost too thick and rich for crab.

                      "it wasn't bad and was pretty tasty" doesn't sound to me that you thought it was really good. You're investing in the crab - use your melted butter. You could have one with sauteed garlic and one without for those who don't like a lot of garlic. Easy and cheap.

                      1. as far as the "crab butter/mustard/tomalley" goes, I'd reserve it for smearing on toast points or bits of baguette.

                        but dogs and cats like it too.

                        I lean towards the considering it 'heresy' side as I also grew up in crustacean-free midwest (MO) so it, of and by itself, (OK maybe a good squeeze of lemon) is treat enough. but as others posted, it's really your call. I'd probably find it too rich and the flavor drowned in PJ's dip. but ehh just don't waste that liver, if you don't eat it, your pets will love you even more and wonder why it isn't around every day. (can't we have that stuff again?)

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: hill food

                          While I love the "green stuff" in lobsters and blue claw crabs, I avoid it in Dungeness crabs. There are occasional outbreaks of paralytic shellfish poisoning (caused by algae) on the Pacific coast. Mollusks, at least the filter feeding clams, etc, are not sold from areas where and when PSP occurs, but crabs are OK....however, its the meat of the crabs that's OK, not the liver. So as tasty as it is, I avoid it when I eat Dungeness. On the other issue, I tend to season my dungeness crab water very heavily, but beyond that, its just plain crab meat...no added anything. (I have to admit that I do like the taste of PJ's garlic "butter" though....) If I want to do something extra, I get 2 crabs, and make crab cakes from the body, and eat the legs and claws separately.

                          1. re: EricMM

                            excellent point about the poisoning.

                            1. re: EricMM

                              well ignorance WAS bliss while it lasted...

                          2. Sometimes I'll sear Peconic bay or sea scallops and mix them in with some SpaghettiOs and shaved Parmesan. Masterful! Saying this, I will suggest that if you like the flavor of butter you experiment by cooking seafood before-hand and use clarified butter for dipping. Add salt and garlic if you like and if it's not your thing, then by all means go with Papa.

                            1. go for it, if you like it. probably i'd only suggest two points:

                              it'll be better if you make your own with real, good butter and freshly pressed or minced garlic (some would say garlic granules or powder for even dispersal). just keep it light on the garlic. i'd add in some finely chopped parsley at the last minute, and maybe some finely minced shallot and a touch of white wine -- basically a snails bourguinonne sauce! go easy on the garlic to start. crab is delicate, and you don't want to overpower it. http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/snails....

                              second, it will be less expensive than buying papa john's (i'm *guessing*).