King Crab


Red King Crabking crab / CC BY-SA

KING CRAB is found in the cold waters in the northern seas of Alaska and the Aleutian islands. They are also found in Russian waters but the Bering Sea of Alaska is the largest harvest area. As the name denotes, the king crab is the largest and most prized of the crab family. It is also commonly known as red or Alaska king. It averages 4-10 pounds in weight but they have been known to reach 24 pounds and 6 feet from tip to tip. They have a lifespan of about 20 years.  It has a heavy, spiny shell that turns orange after cooking. The king crab comes in 3 types, blue, red and brown or golden. The Red being the largest and most flavorful, is the most common and most important commercially. Government regulations put strict harvest seasons on the king crab. The season is usually set up between November and February and can last anywhere from 1 day to about a month depending on the supply. There are also restrictions as to the minimum size and the sex of the crab. Only male king crab can be kept. All females and males that are to small must be returned to the sea unharmed. Red kings are maroon-red and grow by molting. They shed their shell as often as five times in their first year and less often as they get older. Because of its size, king crabs are not sold live, but are usually cooked and frozen on the harvesting boat. Almost all king crab sold in the United States is pre-cooked, frozen legs and claws. The cooked legs are sold according to size. There will be numbers like 6-9, 9-12, 20-30 etc. These numbers tell you how many legs are in 10 pounds of crab. The smaller the number, the larger the legs will be. When cooked, the meat will be white, highlighted with bright red. For information on cooking click on


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