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Although crabs are available year round in coastal areas, their consumption is most associated with the summer, undoubtedly from the summer tourist migration to the shores. King and snow crabs come from the north Pacific and are prized for their legs. Unless you live in Alaska, these are always shipped and sold frozen. Dungeness crabs are found on the Pacific coast while stone crabs hail from Florida waters. Along the eastern seaboard it is the Blue crab that reigns supreme.
Soft-shell crabs are blue crabs that have shed their outer shell during the process of molting. In the few days before the new shell hardens, they are consumable, “shell” and all. Soft-shell crabs are available April through September with the peak being in June and July.
Blue crabmeat is sold frozen, canned and fresh. The fresh, obviously tastes the best but I’ll use the canned when I can’t find it. Lump meat is the most expensive and is comprised of the larger pieces of meat from the body while the flaked is the smaller pieces. Always pick through your crabmeat to remove the bits of shell that will inevitably be lurking in it. Fresh crabmeat is pre-cooked but nevertheless is highly perishable. Use it within a day or two of buying it. Some sources say that the raw meat from live crabs that have died can be used within 24 hours but I’d stick with ones that are still alive at the onset of cooking.
Crabs are nutritious, low in fat, and high in protein. Three and one half ounces of crabmeat contains twenty grams of protein, one gram of fat, (some of which is the desirable omega-3 fatty acids), Vitamins B1, B2, and B6, selenium, iron, potassium, and zinc.
Soft-Shell Crabs with Gremolata
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