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Live Crab Prices-What's the latest?

mr_morcilla Jan 17, 2013 11:49 PM

Anybody bought a crab lately? What's the lowdown on prices on Clement? Piers? Half Moon Bay?

  1. p
    PekoePeony Jan 18, 2013 12:00 AM

    A friend saw it earlier today for $3.29/lb in San Jose

    1. k
      kc72 Jan 18, 2013 06:57 AM

      On Wed., a market (Wong Kee?) in Oakland Chinatown had a sign for $3.99/lb. No idea how they looked b/c I couldn't get into their lot.

      1. PeterL Jan 18, 2013 10:33 AM

        Sunday we bought some live ones from Ranch 99 for $3.99.

        1. n
          NapaSpy Jan 21, 2013 10:38 AM

          Currently $3.99 at 99Ranch. Tanks are full. Crabs are Big. Life is good!

          1. baron45 Jan 21, 2013 08:08 PM

            R99 in Daly City just received a crateload of crabs around 2pm Monday. All lively. The guy unloading them couldn't fit them all in.

            1. r
              rubadubgdub Jan 24, 2013 03:55 PM

              $6.99/lb today at Monterey Fish.

              1. f
                FattyDumplin Jan 24, 2013 04:37 PM

                dumb question. are all the crabs being sold at places like a ranch 99 actually coming from the bay area? or are they shipped in from elsewhere, like the PNW? Are they fresh off the boat or are they older, less fresh live crabs that have been sitting around for awhile? Just curious, because i've had live bay area crab cooked for me at restaurants that is astoundingly sweet and flavorful. and while the stuff i buy at ranch 99 is very fresh and still delicious, it lacks a little something.

                11 Replies
                1. re: FattyDumplin
                  wally Jan 24, 2013 04:41 PM

                  Not a dumb question. Probably hard to answer. I know that on Tuesday when I went to Monterey Fish, there were 2 small crabs in the tank. When I was in there on Wednesday, there were at least 30 in the tank, presumably new arrivals, but who knows which crab is old and which is new?

                  1. re: FattyDumplin
                    NapaSpy Jan 24, 2013 06:18 PM

                    Agreed with Wally. Not a dumb question, and asking the help will not give you the information you need. The last 2 crabs I bought from R99 were absolutely delicious, and did not lack anything.

                    I cooked it Cantonese style: Steamed in white wine, with ginger and green onion, tied in a knot. Steamed for 12 minutes, full throttle! So naturally sweet my husband eschewed the Sweet Thai sauce.

                    My secret: I tip the help at R99 to fish for the liveliest specimens -- all ten digits, please!-- and I want to see it before they put it in the bag. Also, crab is "cangreho" (sp?) in Spanish.

                    Enjoy! Life is GOOD!

                    1. re: NapaSpy
                      wally Jan 24, 2013 09:53 PM

                      The crabs I bought on Wednesday were good. i also insist on seeing lively crabs, but did not tip. Am I supposed to so? I just steamed, by the way.

                      1. re: NapaSpy
                        FattyDumplin Jan 25, 2013 12:39 PM

                        INteresting approach, have never heard of it. What kind of white wine? You mean like a chardonnay? Sounds really good and I may have to try that!

                        1. re: FattyDumplin
                          NapaSpy Jan 25, 2013 01:27 PM

                          Most snobs will tell you never to cook with wine that you would not drink. Some disagree, so you be the judge. Anyway, the wine is just for steaming, and 2BuckChuck Chard is good enough for me. I place the crab on top of the shell to raise it up -- like a trivet-- and the wine does not mix with the crab, merely perfume it.

                          Just make sure you add more wine midway so the crab does not burn. The secret is not to overcook the crab.

                          Tell me what you think...

                      2. re: FattyDumplin
                        PeterL Jan 25, 2013 01:41 PM

                        I don't know where they are from, some wholesaler I guess. With crab in season in CA why would anyone import live crabs from the northwest? As to whether they've been sitting in the tank, I again don't know. All I know is they show me the crabs they take out of the tank. They are lively and have all the claws, then I am fine with it.

                        The Ranch 99 near my place has a steamer and will steam your crabs for you.

                        1. re: PeterL
                          FattyDumplin Jan 25, 2013 01:53 PM

                          I ask because at a $3/lb wholesale price, it seems silly to sell at $3.99 at Ranch, unless they are using it to generate shopping traffic?

                          In NYC, the chinese markets are able to sell fish so cheaply because they buy the stuff that is still fresh, but not the freshest. So then i wonder if the Ranch's are getting the stuff that doesn't initially sell - so it's still alive and decently fresh, but maybe has been sitting in a tank for awhile. In which case it could just be overflow from anywhere around the pacific coast, i imagine.

                          Agree generally that they are lively, so it can't be all that bad. But i have a similar experience with live fish. There are "really fresh" live fish that have a sweetness and firmness that lets you know they are relatively recently caught. ANd then there are slightly older live fish where it seems like the flesh has started to atrophy a bit.

                          I guess the real question is, is there a difference between a) what you get right off the docks for just over $3/lb, b) at a ranch 99 for $3.99 or c) a non asian market for nearly double the price. and if there is a difference, is it even discernible for an everyday consumer like me.

                          1. re: FattyDumplin
                            PeterL Jan 25, 2013 04:49 PM

                            Obviously I have not (and I don't think anyone has) done this kind of comparison taste testing. I have a sneaking suspicion that when there are lots and lots of crabs, the published wholesale price is subject to some negotiations. One can either dump 1,000 lbs of crabs back into the sea or sell them for something less than wholesale.

                            And BTW, in a couple of weeks (Chinese new year) crab prices will double.

                            1. re: PeterL
                              FattyDumplin Jan 25, 2013 08:39 PM

                              that is a great point! I had to hold off on eating crab for a few weeks around the holidays. I may have to go this weekend.

                              1. re: FattyDumplin
                                acvr5 Jan 26, 2013 03:31 PM

                                Two days before New Years I paid $9.99/lb at Manila Market because I had to have some fresh crab for a requested party appetizer. $36+ for two undersized but lively specimen. Supply and demand! Capitalism at its best.

                              2. re: PeterL
                                FattyDumplin Jan 29, 2013 08:52 PM

                                Tried another crab. 3.99 a pound, 2.34 pounds. It wasn't moving much but the counter guy insisted it was because he water was so cold. I got home and wow, it was lively as I rinsed it. Steamed it for 15 minutes. Amazing. Perfect texture and so sweet. M wife and I raved this is thebest we ever got from ranch 99. I think I may have been over steaming in the past but I suspect this is the freshest live crab I've gotten of late.

                        2. r
                          rubadubgdub Jan 25, 2013 08:39 AM

                          $6.00/lb today at Alioto Lazio

                          1. s
                            sunnyside Jan 26, 2013 04:54 PM

                            I just bought 3 off the Irene Marie in the harbor at Half Moon Bay, just under 2 lbs each, $6 per lb. All lively in the bag but one seems to have died about an hour after I got back to SF. Makes me wonder how long some are kept on the boats.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: sunnyside
                              PeterL Jan 26, 2013 09:26 PM

                              That's expensive for off the boat price.

                              1. re: sunnyside
                                rubadubgdub Jan 27, 2013 09:04 AM

                                I considered but nixed going to the yesterday bc there was only one seller acc to the msg. no competition is prob the reason for higher prices. I've never paid more than 4/lb off the boats.

                                1. re: rubadubgdub
                                  sunnyside Jan 27, 2013 11:25 AM

                                  Actually there were 5-6 boats selling crabs, one advertising $6/lb, so although I didn't check with all of them it seemd to be the going rate. I agree though that it seemed expensive, its more than I've ever paid off the boats. They were delicious and had a lot of meat, I'm making crab cakes for lunch with the leftovers.

                              2. r
                                rubadubgdub Jan 27, 2013 09:00 AM

                                $4.99/lb at ranch 99 richmond yesterday. they had what looked like 1000 crabs, no kidding. most 2lbs but I have my doubts that they're all local. sign just says USA.

                                1. escargot3 Jan 30, 2013 12:27 AM

                                  On Sunday, $3.69 at Lucky Seafood II in Oakland. Got 3 of 'em. One was HUGE, the other regular sized. All very active critters. And a very fabulous dinner.

                                  1. n
                                    NapaSpy Jan 31, 2013 10:45 PM

                                    99R at Concord: Prices going up. $4.49 for intact crabs, and $4.29 for ones with missing limbs. They did not look too happy in there, except for one critter on top of the pile.

                                    1. tameralee Feb 10, 2013 04:12 PM

                                      we get our (live) crabs from tokyo fish market on san pablo in berkeley. they're super knowledgeable about their products. they have local crabs, but also some from up north, which do have a sweeter flavor. those run a bit more a little over $5/lb. but def worth it, they are really good... if you do a plain steam, you don't even need butter!

                                      1. PeterL Feb 10, 2013 04:41 PM

                                        I am totally stunned by the low prices crabs are selling, despite this being Chinese new year. Yesterday Ranch 99 was selling them for $4.99/lb.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: PeterL
                                          FattyDumplin Feb 11, 2013 01:17 PM

                                          I was at Mountain View Ranch 99 yesterday and they were at $4.99 as well. The caveat is that the tanks were only 1/4 - 1/3 full, which was not surprising given the holiday weekend. More importantly, all they had were sub 2#s and a couple larger ones, but with various claws / legs missing. Despite the good price and a craving for crab, I elected to wait until they stock is replenished.

                                        2. n
                                          NapaSpy Feb 17, 2013 03:34 PM

                                          Concord R99 had the Dungeness for $5.29 and the Stone Crab for $3.99 yesterday.

                                          Hang in there! CNY is traditionally celebrated for 15 days, so in a week prices will be normal again.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: NapaSpy
                                            efmgdj Feb 19, 2013 05:41 PM

                                            Slightly off topic, but any opinions on whether cooked dungeness is better from a place like tokyo fish in berkeley vs ranch99 or even safeway?

                                            1. re: efmgdj
                                              tameralee Feb 19, 2013 06:57 PM

                                              i haven't had r99 crab, and hadn't even realized safeway sold it.

                                              but tokyo fish market, they often have a eureka crab that is crazy delicious. i guess some guy they've been sourcing from has a secret cooking recipe that is MMMMmmmmm so succulent and sweet.

                                              1. re: tameralee
                                                efmgdj Feb 19, 2013 07:22 PM

                                                is that dungeness from eureka or some other kind of crab? Is it some fancier prep than just steaming?

                                                (I had steamed dungeness from tokyo fish early in the season and it was quite good.)

                                                1. re: efmgdj
                                                  tameralee Feb 22, 2013 03:46 PM

                                                  i believe they have both -- you have to ask if and when the eureka comes in. but the guy who does it does have some sort of secret recipe/formula that makes it delish.

                                              2. re: efmgdj
                                                NapaSpy Feb 22, 2013 01:57 PM

                                                I buy cooked crab only when I am DESPERATE for crab, and then always regret the purchase. This week Lucky and Safeway have cooked crab cheaper than R99, but why bother? In a few days CNY will be over, and prices will be normal again. These places boil it to death.

                                                Yes, I hear that R99 will steam it for you, but the issue here is opportunity cost. Over cooked crab is a Greek Tragedy! R99 also has "roasted crab", but I fear it is dead crab that they cook when they can't sell it. Caveat Emptor!

                                                Try my steamed version with white wine in my Jan 24 post above. There is another thread in the cooking section in CH about cooking with wine. 2BuckChuck works well enough, IMHO.

                                            2. Sushi Monster Feb 22, 2013 05:19 PM

                                              R99 Cupertino last night: Full tanks. Smallish (less than 2 lb.) crabs. Very sweet. $4.99/lb. Three of them ran about $30. That's my price tipping point, at least for this season.

                                              Sushi Monster

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