How to Cook Snow Crab

A crab is one of the ugliest creatures on earth, but its flesh is the most delicate, naturally sweet treasures of the sea. It is my favourite food in the world.

The Marché du Vieux-Ports’ Pêcherie Raymons Desbois where I buy crab in Quebec City. Once caught, the Pêcherie Raymond Desbois fisherman ship the produce straight to the Marché in Quebec City’s old port. It’s the freshest -and surprisingly the cheapest crab- you’ll find in Quebec City. I’ve seen hour-long lines of people waiting to get their hands on their crab. I highky recommend you follow Les Pêcheries’ Facebook Page where you’ll get the latest info on the crustacean’s arrival in town.

In season, you’ll also find cod, lobster, nordic shrimp, whelk, trout, etc.

Cooking Crab

©Allison Van Rassel
©Allison Van Rassel

Buy the crab alive, never cooked. When cooked, it’s always done in huge batches and always ends up tasting way, way too salty. Snow crab flesh should be treated like caviar, because yes, I believe it is that precious!

I use the BBQ to cook crab; otherwise the smell takes over my house. Add half a cup of coarse salt to 4 litres of water. I use kosher salt. It’s the cheapest, yet the best salt to cook seafood with. That is unless you can get your hands on natural salt water.

I cook six leg sections at a time with the above-mentioned quantity of water. So we’re clear, one crab has two sections. You can add an extra section -or two- if the legs are small, but otherwise I personally don’t like to add too much to one pot. I give crab the space, time and salted water it needs to cook to perfection. Snow crab is my favourite food in the world, I know how to give it all the love it needs!

©Allison Van Rassel
©Allison Van Rassel

Once the water is boiling, drop the legs in. Wait for the water to start boiling back up again; cook for nine (9) minutes. Once cooked, take the legs out of the boiling water and immediately drop them in ice-cold water; the flesh will thus separate from the shell much easier.

Oh, and don’t throw away the cooking water. Add in onions, vegetables, leek, herbs and shells from the feast to make fumet.

In my opinion, snow crab from the St-Lawrence River should be enjoyed as is or with a touch of lemon juice and black pepper. NEVER GARLIC BUTTER! Sacrilège!

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Thank you to the administration of the Marché du Vieux-Port who gladly offered to pay for my crab meal. Snow crab season varies depending on where the catch is from -Lower North Shore or the Gaspé- but, is expected to last at least until late May.

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