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Live Crab Prices-What's the latest?

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

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

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

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

          1. 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. $6.99/lb today at Monterey Fish.

              1. 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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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

                          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

                        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

                          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

                            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

                              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

                                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

                                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. $6.00/lb today at Alioto Lazio

                          1. 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

                              That's expensive for off the boat price.

                              1. re: sunnyside

                                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

                                  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. $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. 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. 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. 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. 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

                                          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. 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

                                            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

                                              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

                                                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

                                                  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

                                                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. 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