A little oil for grilling, some lemon wedges as a garnish and the legs. Enjoying crab legs doesn’t get much simpler than this. But then again, we could complicate things with Compounded Butter. But that’s just an optional thing.
Growing up, there were so many rules regarding when you could safely eat crab. Only in a month with an R is what I remember most. And only those caught during a New Moon. Sounds a little crazy, but there is a logic to this madness. Crabs that are spawning aren’t nearly as good to eat. Some people are down right put off by the taste. When do crabs spawn? In the summer. Summer months have no R. And then there’s the whole toxic red tide issue. Red tides bloom in the summer – again with the R thing. Although today crabbing is highly regulated, so unless you are breaking the law while crabbing, there is little chance of eating contaminated meats. The final reason for the R rule is that shellfish is at its most succulent during the winter. Why? This is the time when the crabs have grown to their fullest size. But it’s more than just size. Did you know that crabs molt during the winter. That is to say they shed their exoskeleton, making them meatier. So what about the New Moon rule? Turns out most of this molting takes place during a new moon.
So why are we eating crab legs in the summer? Chances are that crab you are grilling was caught in the winter, or at lease during a month with an R. Crab are cooked and flash-frozen on the spot. And that’s a good thing, since we now enjoy crab year-round.
Grilled Alaskan King Crab Legs
3 to 4 lbs King Crab Legs, thawed
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Lemons for serving
Build a nice bed of coals and heat the grill to medium-high heat.
Brush both sides of crab legs with oil and place on hot grill 5 or 6 inches from coals.
Close the lid and grill the legs for 5 minutes per side, turning once.
Remove legs to a large platter for serving. Slice lemons and arrange wedges around the legs. Serve with your choice of butters such as clarified butter, or a compounded butter such as tarragon (below) that has been liquefied.
Compounded Tarragon Butter
2 Shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Butter, for frying
4 tablespoons fresh Tarragon, minced
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
1 lb Butter, softened
Peel and finely chop the shallots. Set aside.
In a small skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add shallots and sauté until softened and translucent. Do not allow to color. Transfer them to a small strainer and allow all juices to drain off. Meanwhile, mince the tarragon and set aside until ready to use. Once all the juices have drained from the shallots, discard the juices. Place the shallots inn the bowl of a food processor. Add the tarragon, salt, pepper and butter. Pulse to combine well. Check seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Transfer the mixture to a large piece of waxed paper. Roll into a log and wrap in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator up to one week or in the freezer up to two months.
To serve as a dipping butter for the crab legs, slice some of the butter from the log. Melt over low heat and use as you would clarified or drawn butter.