On rare occasions when you’re feeling festive and generous about your meal budget, you go all out and think of something fancy to eat. What’s more splendid than bringing a 5-star-restaurant dish at home? A plate of sweet and creamy crab legs accompanied by a glass of white wine will give you the fix. And since this dish costs more than an average meal – and probably even slightly higher than two – you know better than to ruin the outcome. Learn from this article as we teach you how to steam crab legs. Here, you’ll know about two methods – the traditional and the microwave.
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The traditional technique of steaming crab legs
We love the conventional method of steaming crab legs. It’s a very modest way of bringing out a superbly flavourful punch. You can play around with the flavours by incorporating various ingredients on the water to be used for steaming that will match the taste of the crab. Popularly used are garlic, butter, corn, and shallots. However, make sure the ingredients you’ll include will not overpower the crab legs. Here, we’ll show you how to cook crab legs the traditional way in its simplest glory:
- If not thawed yet, store crab legs from its frozen state in the chiller overnight.
- Boil water on a stockpot large enough to hold a steamer basket for the size of the crab legs.
- Season with salt and pepper. You may add other flavors of your choice.
- Once boiling, arrange crab legs on the steamer basket. Make sure they are not stacked on top of each other to allow even heating.
- Place steamer basket on the stockpot. Cover and steam for 5-7 minutes.
- Remove crab legs and serve with sauce.
Is steaming time really that short? Yes, it is. Remember, when you bought this from the supermarket, they are already pre-cooked coming in vivid orange color so what you’re really doing is just reheating. Commonly, when crabs are caught in the middle of the ocean, they are kept alive until the ship arrives to the port. They are cooked thereafter and maintained frozen until they are bought. At this state, the meat can last for months so when you buy it, it’s already pre-cooked.
But nonetheless, there are stores selling live crabs. If you fancy buying these, it’s not ideal to separate the legs from the body and keep the latter for future meals. You need to cook everything otherwise, you’ll risk getting an upset stomach. There are ways to keep raw crab meat longer but let’s leave those to the experts.
The microwave technique of steaming crab legs
You may be wondering whether or not the microwave can really do the trick. But perhaps you know by now that the crab legs you bought are just frozen-cooked so indeed, microwaving will be just right. The good news about this is you have your dinner ready in a few minutes. Check out these simple steps on how to steam crab legs in a microwave.
- Thaw crab legs in the fridge overnight.
- Wrap a sprig of dill into crab legs. It’s easier to do this when you tie them up in a bundle. If the crab legs are so big they won’t fit in the microwave, separate the claws from the joint either by snapping or by cutting using kitchen scissors.
- Wet a paper towel and sheathe it around the legs. This will provide the steaming effect when it gets heated in the microwave.
- Finally, cover the entirety of it with cling wrap.
- Microwave for 1-2 minutes.
A much easier method to this is to toss crab legs in a glass bowl or any microwavable container with water. Do not add too much as our intention is not to boil it but just steam it. Cover with the lid or plastic wrap and microwave for 3-4 minutes per 8 ounce of crab. Cook longer if you have bigger portions.
The perfect accompaniments for steamed crab legs
To create a more exquisite dinner atmosphere, pair up your crab legs with some delectable sauces. This will give your dish the five-star-restaurant feels especially when you fix it with garnishes in an appetizing way. The most common sauce is garlic and melted butter. To add a more zesty flavour, others put in a squeeze of lemon. Other simple dips which you can buy from the supermarket are mayonnaise, honey mustard dip, tartar sauce, red hot chili sauce, or even a simple soy sauce. But if you’re already headed for a classy meal, why not go the extra mile and create your own sauce? For one thing, you can make miso dipping sauce, diablo sauce, or chive emulsions. There are a lot of recipes available that will perfectly go along with steamed crab legs.
As for side dishes, you can partner it with either creamy potatoes or roasted vegetables. Other favorites are fresh greens or sweet corns. Whichever you choose, make sure they complement each other’s flavors and the sides will not overwhelm the star of the dinner table.
Why should you steam crab legs?
Other than steaming, there are a lot of ways to cook crab legs. You can boil, broil or even grill it. Each technique has its own pros and cons but what we love about steaming is that in terms of flavour and juice retention, it’s no secret that it is superior to boiling. The meat is not soaked up well with water thus, flavours are retained inside the shell. Unless you will also serve a savoury bowl of soup, it’s best to let the juice stay within the meat.
There’s also beauty about broiling or grilling crab legs. It brings forth a caramelized and deliciously charred flavour to your dish without too much effort. Here, you’re recreating a marvellous recipe with the infusion of various flavors. However, if you really want to enjoy the pure and humble tang of this sea creature, we still recommend steaming it.
You should definitely give steaming a try because while it is one of the simplest way of cooking it, it will not fail to deliver smiles to your hungry guests.
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