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Four Crabs Seafood Restaurants Want You To Try

by Peppi Hautala

Just about everyone is familiar with Alaskan king crab, a favorite at seafood restaurants. But periodically, your favorite seafood shanty may offer other types of crab that are equally delicious. Here are four to try the next time you see them on the menu.

Snow Crab

Most snow crab, sometimes referred to as "opies" after their scientific name, comes from Alaska, although they can also be found on the East coast. They are harvested in late winter, so look for them on seafood restaurant menus January through March. Snow crab tend to have excess water so baking or grilling is best. Their flavor is clean and mild, with sweet, delicate flesh.

Blue Crab

These soft-shell crabs hail from Maryland's Chesapeake Bay and the coastal waters off the Carolinas. When a blue crab molts, it sheds its outer shell, leaving a delicate, edible "soft" shell behind. This means you don't have to work to retrieve the succulent crab meat. This delectable crab must be harvested immediately after molting, as the window of opportunity before their shells starts to harden again is only a few hours. Blue crabs are most plentiful in late spring and summer. They can be baked, grilled, sautéed, or battered and fried. A favorite East coast treat is the soft shell crab sandwich, which is simply prepared with a slice of tomato and leaf lettuce.

Dungeness Crab

Sometimes called San Francisco crab, Dungeness crab, named after Dungeness, Washington, where it is plentiful, is also found in the waters off California and Oregon. It can also be found around the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Dungeness crab is fished in December through March. It has sweet and tender flesh. Besides steaming and serving with lemon and butter, Dungeness crab is commonly used in crab cakes or as one of the ingredients in cioppino, an Italian seafood chowder popular in San Francisco.

Florida Stone Crab

Despite its name, it is widely available, from the North Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico to Cuba and the Bahamas, but they are usually only commercially fished in Florida waters. Their season runs from October through May. Florida stone crab are able to easily regenerate their claws. Because of this fact, fisherman must remove the claws and throw the crab back. Their meat more closely resembles lobster meat and is flaky and decadently sweet. For this reason, it is best simply prepared so the flavor can truly be appreciated.

The next time you visit a seafood restaurant like The Turtle Club, be sure to look for one of these other crabs. Alaskan king crab may be king, but these other crabs are just as royal.