It’s funny how you eat something for years and you think you know what it tastes like.
Sure, I’ve had snow crab many times in restaurants, from the grocery store, and from my fishmonger as well. Flavors varied based on freshness, and whether it was in season or not. I typically favored other crabs over snow crab, if available, because I wasn’t a huge fan. That all changed this past weekend.
We had the pleasure of tasting live snow crab sent from Aqua Best Seafood. A family founded and ran seafood store in NYC just blocks away from the Fulton Fish Market, these people know their product, and they’re doing a great job of finding the best of the best.
Our order of crabs arrived at our doorstep in a styrofoam container. Placed on newspaper over a layer of ice packs, with another layer of newspaper over them, I quickly realized the pot I was planning to use wasn’t going to be big enough. My girlfriend and I looked at each other, wondering who would be the one to put them in the pot.
I’ll be the first to admit I am the more squeamish one. As a nurse, she’s tougher than me by a mile. However, after extensive research on how to humanely ‘dispatch’ our crabs, I procrastinated the deed by going to the grocery store and buying clarified butter, also called ghee. You can make ghee at home if you’re inclined. I also chilled the bottle of wine we would be drinking, a French Savignon Blanc, Saget La Perriere named ‘La Petite Perriere’ distributed by Pasternak wines.
Fresh seafood and a great wine: this is the life, and these are the makings of a great meal. I should also mention that I bought a cluster of the frozen variety at the grocery store in order to compare it to the live crabs. I figured, if Aqua Best is going to say they are better, we might as well prove it to ourselves. Besides, you can’t hate on more crab.
As for dispatching the crabs, I find that giving them a good bop on the head (a whack with a mallet between the eyes), rendering them unconscious before putting them head first into the pot, is the best way to go. After boiling them for 12 minutes, rinsing in cold water and cleaning them, we were ready to taste our live snow crab for the first time. Cleaning them was easy thanks to the many helpful videos on line.
Although eager to try both sets of crabs (frozen/store bought, and those from Aqua Best), I could have saved myself a trip to the store because the live crabs were so good we could have enjoyed them without the clarified butter.
[quote]There is no comparison between the taste of the frozen grocery store crabs to Aqua Best’s live Snow Crab. The flavors and textures are completely different. We were both really surprised. [/quote]
The store bought crab was salty, briny and firm. The live crabs were sweet, succulent, and the meat was so tender, it practically melts in your mouth. We both sighed because we hoped the store bought crab would be closer in flavor to the live crabs. As if the crabs weren’t amazing on their own, the La Petite Perriere Savignon Blanc was a perfect compliment to the meal. It balanced the crab’s richness, sweetness, and clarified butter, with bright acidity. This Loire Valley wine is as elegant and rich in flavor as the crabs we devoured. It’s a bright, clean and refreshing wine that has great depth of flavor and lingers with notes of melon. It retails for around $14.00. It’s a value wine at this price.
After tasting the live snow crab, I will have no issues dispatching them next time, because after tasting this deep sea delicacy, the excitement of eating them supersedes my squeamishness.
Although Aqua Best’s snow crab are quite large in size, I would recommend getting two per person. You’re going to want seconds.