There are over 4500 species of crab in the world. While only a few of these species make it to our plates, dinner tables, menus, and kitchens, it can still be difficult to keep these types of crab and their many diverse characteristics straight. Some of the most common crab varieties include snow crabs, king crabs, and Dungeness crabs. For those interested in a deep dive on Dungeness crab, make sure to check out this blog post from our sister restaurant Crab House. Today we are going to explore snow crab vs king crab and the important distinctions between the two. This post will help you identify which variety best suits your wallet, taste buds, and cooking styles.
What are Snow Crabs
Snow crabs are a species of crab that are named for the color of their meat. Fun fact, when Snow crabs are cooked, their bright red crab meat is transformed from red to snowy white, hence the name snow crab. They are also often referred to as the “queen crab” because of their long legs, similar to king crabs. These are typically the most common type of crab or crab legs that you will find in your local supermarket or fish market. The snow crab legs are typically sold in pre-packed clusters.
What do Snow Crabs taste like?
Snow crab legs, typically the only part of the snow crab that we eat, tend to have a nice sweetness to the flavor with an equally as nice briny, salty, and savory flavor that makes this crab meat complex and nicely balanced. Its texture is typically more fibrous than king crab. This texture means it is more easily shredded to smaller pieces, making it perfect for appetizers or sauces.
Where do Snow Crabs come from?
When answering the question, where does snow crab come from, we look to the deep and frigid cold waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. Snow crabs can be found anywhere from the cold waters of Siberia to Newfoundland and even in Alaska. This makes their harvesting season one of the longest lasting from late fall until early summer.
What are King Crabs?
King crabs are a legendary species of crab and have rightfully earned their name as “King”, sometimes weighing in at six to eight pounds with a leg span of up to 5ft. When we eat king crabs we typically only eat the legs (similar to snow crabs) . These are definitely one of the most important seafood exports from Alaska, when people talk about Alaskan crab legs, King crab is usually what they’re referring to. Although there are over one hundred subspecies of king crabs, the kind that we usually focus on is one of these three: Red (the most prized), Blue, and Golden. The best season for harvesting King Crab is from late October to January. Fun fact during their yearly migration they walk over 100 miles and often up to one mile per day!
What do King Crabs taste like?
King crabs are incredibly delectable, and are often compared to lobster, they are THAT juicy, succulent, and tender. Their meat tends to break off in larger pieces and isn’t as easily shredded. It’s most often described as having a mild flavor with subtle sweetness (aka perfect to eat with some melted butter and lemon). The meat of a king crab is white with some red streaking.
Where does the King Crab come from?
King Crabs are typically found in Alaska and the Bering Sea. Similar to snow crabs, these long legged crustaceans also enjoy the cold water of the northern pacific oceans. Their harvesting season is much shorter than the snow crab and only usually runs from late October to January – and even then can be shortened due to weather.
The Key Differences between Snow vs King Crab
When comparing snow crab vs king crab it’s easy to look at what they have in common. They both have long legs, they’re both cooked in really similar ways, and they both have a similar habitat. Now let’s take a look at the difference between snow crab and king crab.
King crab vs snow crab taste very differently and their meat is usually used for different purposes. The King crab is known as the best of the best when it comes to crab meat and it is usually a delicacy and eaten on its own or with a buttery dip. Snow crab, because of its more savory taste, is excellent for hors d’oeuvres, and often used in salads, dips, spreads, or even in soup, although snow crab is also wonderful on its own. Depending on your cooking preferences and the occasion for having crab (not that you need an occasion to eat delicious crab) you’ll want to examine the snow crab vs king crab differences.
Due to its sought after taste, juicy pieces of meat, and the limited time frame in which you can catch king crab – the price per pound always tends to be higher than snow crab. King Crab legs can go from anywhere between $50-100/per pound. You might not be eating king crab every night at that price point, but when you do it is well worth the price. Snow Crab is more common. Because of its longer harvesting season, the price is more affordable. Snow Crab typically comes in at $20-40/ per pound. Because of the snow crab’s texture it also makes it a better choice for omelets, souffles, or pasta sauces!
How to cook Snow Crab vs King Crab legs
If you’re looking for the best crab restaurant in San Francisco Fog Harbor Fish House is the place to go. However, we know that sometimes you want to enjoy these delectable crustaceans at home. One of the similarities between snow crab legs vs king crab legs is the way you prepare them. Both king snow crab legs, (and crab legs in general) are cooked the same way. Any home chef, no matter your skill or experience level can master these techniques. Boiling, steaming, or broiling are the easiest ways to cook any type of crab leg.
Boiling Crab Legs
It’s easy to boil crab legs, in fact it’s one of the easiest ways to cook crab. Simply fill a pot with water, wait until the water reaches a boil, put in your crab legs and then boil for about 5 minutes. Then remove them from the water and serve.
Steaming Crab Legs
Steaming crab legs is very simple! Bring a large pot of water to a boil and place a steamer basket inside your pot. Put your crab legs inside the steamer basket and cover the pot. Leave the pot covered for five to seven minutes. Then remove the lid and serve.
Broiling Crab Legs
Preheat your oven to the “broil” setting. Place all crab legs on a baking sheet and coat with olive oil or butter. Once your oven has finished preheating, place the baking sheet in the oven at least six to eight inches below the broiler. Broil one side of the crab legs for around three to four minutes. Then flip the crab legs and broil the second side for the same amount of time.
Best way to serve King, Snow crab legs
We are purists when it comes to the best way to serve crab legs. We enjoy dipping the meat in melted butter and serving them up with lemon. If you’re looking for best things to serve with crab make sure you give this post a good read, lemon rice, grilled veggies, and of course wine top the list.
Those looking for crab or seafood in general in San Francisco often come to us at Fog Harbor Fish House. We are most well known for our amazing seafood, (we were recently named one of Eater’s top seafood restaurants in SF), and our incredible and unbeatable view of the San Francisco Bay Area. Fog Harbor proud to serve the best crab in San Francisco. And while our focus is on the succulent Dungeness crab variety, we love educating our guests on the distinct differences between all the crab varieties available. We hope to see you soon at our Pier 39 location.