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.
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.
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.
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.
– 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!
lemon garlic aioli & paprika chilli oil reduction
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.
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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