The Deadliest Catch of Alaskan Crab

by Forager on September 2, 2009

Oh how I love crab. I have a great weakness for these scuttling arachnids and if it appears on a restaurant menu, I’ll preferentially order it over anything else.

I’ve tried a plethora of different crabs across the globe from the humble blue swimmers and meaty mud crabs widely available in Australia, to hairy Shanghai crabs in Hong Kong, to the stone crabs and Alaskan king crab in Miami and it was the last experience that really took my appreciation of crab to another level. It was early 2008 when I had Alaskan king crab in Miami, squealing in excited delight as I’d finally come face to face with the star of the highly addictive show, The Deadliest Catch. We had them at Joe’s Stone Crab, an iconic Miami institution, and they were served with wedges of lemon, melted butter and seafood sauce, but with one bite of the delicious unadulterated crab flesh, I knew it needed no more than a light drizzle of lemon as the flavour was an explosion of intense crab flavour, more so than in any other crab I’d eaten. I was in crab lover’s nirvana and for me, Alaskan king crab was well deserved of it’s royal title, instantly surpassing all other crab species in flavour and flesh desirability.

Since then, Sydney-siders have been lucky enough to have easy access to Alaskan king crabs at the Sydney Fish Markets and some selected seafood specialist restaurants. Personally, no trip to the fish markets is complete without purchasing some Alaskan king crab to snack on. Not only is this particular crab delicious and a must-try for all crab lovers – it’s also excellent value! Although their market price seems quite high compared to other crabs, the flesh to weight ratio is easily superior and the Alaskan king crab is kind to crab lovers, having a thin, flexible and easy to penetrate shell. It’s simply a crab lover’s best friend!

So when some industry friends told me about a special Deadliest Catch dinner at Jordan’s Seafood Restaurant – 3 courses of Alaskan snow and king crab for $59 and an audience with Andy Hillstrand, Captain of the Time Bandit, it took only a mere 10 minutes to transition from being aware of the event to confirmed and booked.

On this night I am joined by fellow crab lovers, L-bean and Spamtaro – we’d been sending each other pictures of Alaskan crabs all week in anticipation of this meal and we’d built up high expectations. The event was held within the private event section of Jordan’s and as we walked in we were greeted with a large screen flashing images of Season 5 of The Deadliest Catch.

And then we see a familiar logo – The Time Bandit!

We head over to our seats and were handed some cute crab paperweights adorned with The Deadliest Catch logo. These doubled as lucky draw tickets as hidden on their bellies were numbers scrawled in black texta.

We started the night with a well deserved drink after a long week and ordered some cocktails. The L-bean ordered a Midori and Cointreau infused concoction called a Japanese Slipper, whereas I opted for a Frangelico Sour, a simple mix of Frangelico and lime. They arrive at the same time as the first of the 3 Alaskan crab courses – the starter of Thai king crab salad.

Japanese Slipper $13.50 and Frangelico Sour $10

The Thai king crab salad is not king crab from Thailand as we mused, but Alaskan king crab with a Thai-style sauce. The rouille is spicy with rich capsicum and tomato flavours and fairly unsalted on it’s own, but paired with the sea-saltiness of the Alaskan king crab it’s perfect. In retrospect, it was my favourite dish of the night.

Thai King Crab served with herb rouille and baby herbs

The entree and mains were served on an alternate basis, so Spamtaro’s entree was an impressive looking Alaskan king crab leg with parmesan gremalata balanced on a mound of polenta and sauerkraut. Spamtaro kindly offered us a taste of this and we found the parmesan gremalata to be very tasty in a cheesy, tangy, herby and generally very flavour packed way.

Entree: King crab leg served with parmesan gremalata, polenta and sauerkraut

The entree that L-bean and I received had even more complex flavours, combining a peculiar mix of smoked chicken, fetta, rocket and olive tapenade with the Alaskan king crab to create a mêlée of smoky, cheesy, spicy, salty and rich savoury flavours. Though both entrees were interesting we were surprised and slightly disappointed with the needless complexity in the dishes as the flavour of Alaskan king crab is so exceptional au naturel that it usually doesn’t need to be draped and adorned with an entourage of cloaking flavours.

Entree: Smoked chicken and king crab salad
– smoked chicken breast, king crab, rocket, fetta and olive tapenade

The impressive looking mains promised to redeem the experience of the entrees. Spindly long red legs clawed out from the plates, tempting us with the fleshy delights within. The crab used in the mains was Alaskan snow crab, also known on the market as Opilio or “queen crab”, which gives you a good idea of it’s desirability next to the king crab. Fans of The Deadliest Catch will know that the Bering Sea king crab fishing season is held in November, whereas the snow crab season starts in January – when the Bering Sea is even more ferocious, icy and life threateningly dangerous! There are literally lives on the line to bring us this crab. Fishing on the Bering Sea is dangerous – but oh, for such tasty, juicy crab!

Spamtaro receives the snow crab cluster – unadulterated Alaskan crab served with a variety of condiments – just what we’d been waiting for. We find that the snow crab is naturally saltier than the king crab, but like the entrees, the mix of accompanying sauces are hit-and-miss. The macadamia-spiced dukkah is very strongly flavoured with what we think is chermoula and overpowers the delicate flavour of the crab. The aioli is a better complement with the crab although the garlic and lemon flavours are almost too subtle to be detected. The best accompaniment came in the form of the paprika chilli oil reduction – mild, subtle and it allowed the crab to take the center stage. Perfect!

Cluster of snow crab served with macadamia spiced dukkah,
lemon garlic aioli & paprika chilli oil reduction

L-bean and I received the Singapore chilli crab and were excited to dig in as it’d been a while since we’d had this dish. The sauce was surprisingly rich in sweet tomato and prawn flavours but lacked any real chilli heat. The sauce consistency was great though, thick and syrupy enough to coat the crab, my hands and everything else. We dived in for messy finger licking fun.
Singapore chilli snow crab served with coconut rice and Asian greens

Fleshy Alaskan snow crab – the messy reward

Midway through the mains, Captain Andy takes the floor, introduces himself, and takes questions from the floor. He entertains the crowd with stories of fishing for crab on the Bering Sea and of treacherous 40 – 50 ft waves in churning seas like those in The Perfect Storm. For the record, he eats his fair share of Alaskan crab, but knowing the market value of the crab in the back of his mind is a self limiting factor in his crab intake.

Andy happily poses for photos with all his fans, and although he was at first reluctant to take a photo on his own, it only take some half hearted encouragement before he breaks out his signature tough-guy Captain’s pose.

And he was kind enough to sign a poster for me! I did feel slightly silly like a giggling teenage fan with a pop idol, but I guess that’s what excessive crab consumption can do.

We left Jordans with our bellies full of Alaskan crab, clutching signed posters but we all felt strangely unsatisfied. I rectified this the next day with a swift and determined trip to the fish markets.

The remedy for crab fever is great fleshy morsels of Alaskan king crab, simply dressed with a light drizzle of lemon juice. Sublime! Sometimes, less really is more.

Jordan’s Seafood Restaurant

197 Harbourside Darling Harbour; (02)9281 3711
Open daily from 11:30am – 10:30pm


Foodie in the know:
The Alaskan crab dinner was a special one-off event to promote the new season release of The Deadliest Catch DVD and the updated edition of the Time Bandit’s book: “Time Bandit – Two brothers, the Bering Sea and one of the world’s deadliest jobs”

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mr. Taste September 3, 2009 at 10:07 am

You need to make your way to the Las Vegas buffets for all you can eat Alaskan crab legs!

2 Ellie@AlmostBourain September 3, 2009 at 11:15 am

So true: "Less really is more". I love tasting fresh produce without much intervention.

3 Belle@OohLook September 3, 2009 at 7:03 pm

The crab legs look good – even though I’m allergic to crab, I can imagine how great they would have tasted, dripping in oil… And sounds like you had a great night meeting those 'deadly catch' sailors!

4 Jackie at September 3, 2009 at 7:33 pm

I agree with Mr Taste. You gotta go to the Bellagio buffet in Vegas. I remember gorging myself with a ton of Alaskan crab legs. It's so good!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5 Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella September 3, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Holy mutha! I would have taken all of 2 seconds to book that one if I'd known about it! lol I love that show-I remember seeing an episode where a rookie fell into the water and was saved just in the nick of time. Frightening stuff but that makes it that much more exciting to eat 😛

6 Katherine September 3, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Wow I love Crab. I often have friends over and we would lay newspaper down and just eat Crab. Soooo delicious..

7 FFichiban September 4, 2009 at 1:51 am

Crabby fest! I love queen crab (even more so than king crab!)

8 Iron Chef Shellie September 5, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Oh I haven't watched Deadliest Catch in ages!

<3 crab too!! om nomnom

9 Megan@Feasting on Art September 6, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Oh my! It is a dream come true! If only I had known – I always seem to miss delicious dinners like this!

10 Trisha September 7, 2009 at 7:49 am

Oh I love the manual handwork needed when eating crabs! I know some people think it's hard work, but I find cracking the shell and slowly extricating the flesh out and popping into my mouth slightly therapeutic – does that mean I'm a sadist? 😀 But anyway… mmm crabs!

11 Forager September 7, 2009 at 11:22 am

Hey Mr Taste – Say what? All you can eat Alaskan crab buffet??! There ARE reasons for me to go to Vegas then!

Hey Ellie – Absolutely with you on that one. Such a shame to see good flavour masked by unnecessary trappings! Au naturel is best!

Hey Belle – You're allergic to crab?! Oh no, that'd be my worst nightmare! Well, I guess you don't share the sentiment if you're allergic to them!

Hey Jackie – Thanks for the excellent tip! Bellagio's buffet is well & truly in my sights!

Hey Lorraine – I remember that episode! Or it could have been a different scene as there were so many moments like that throughout the 5 seasons! And I remember you're a crab lover too! Get thee to the Fish markets I say!

Hey Katherine – I like your style. Get messy & unapologetic about it :)

Hey FFichiban – Queen crab you say? Controversial..

Hey Iron Chef Shellie – I don't watch every episode but I don't seem to tire of the sight of a pot laden with crabs trying to escape. I just want a few. Just a few please.

Hey Megan – I only found out at the last minute too. I think Andy was doing a whirlwind 2 day tour of Sydney at short notice so only fishing industry folk were notified.

Hey Trisha – I'm 100% with you there. Far from hard work for crab lovers I say! Brandishing a healthy chunk of crab you've painstakingly extracted gives me so much satisfaction!

12 Arwen from Hoglet K September 11, 2009 at 10:46 pm

That sounds like crab lover heaven! I love the themed paperweight crabs.

13 Ellie@AlmostBourain September 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Hi Trina,

I can't seem to find your email contact on your blog or your profile. I wanted to notify you that you have won my recent giveaway and can you please email me your address so I can send your gift to you. Thanks!


14 Forager September 14, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Hey Arwen – It certainly was! I don't think I could ever get tired of eating crab. Perhaps the Las Vegas buffet everyone keeps telling me about will do it though. Mm. Crab.

Hey Ellie – How exciting thanks!

15 Simon September 16, 2009 at 11:38 pm

Love the high meat-to-effort ratio that King crab has to offer. Having said that, I've never purchased it before, despite its availability.

16 peter jones September 19, 2009 at 12:40 am

Excellent blog well written and good photos. These blokes do a hard and dangerous job and i take my hat off to them all.So i wrote this blog please have a look if you have the time.
Take care and always keep a weather eye on the horizon.

17 Forager September 19, 2009 at 1:17 am

Hey Simon – You should definitely try Alaskan crab. The reward to effort ratio is on our side and the taste alone is worth any effort!

Hey Pete – A fellow crab lover and a Deadliest Catch fan! I'm constantly impressed by those brave fisherpeople – I wouldn't last a millisecond on the Bering Sea! Nice rite up on the hub by the way and thanks for dropping by!

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