Chef's notes:

Snow crab is a small group of crabs that compromise the genus chionoecetes, which, not surprisingly, is Latin for “snow crab.” Two of its most popular members are the opies (C. opilio) and tanner (C. bairdi) crabs. The opies are the primary species marketed as snow crab, but other members of the genus are frequently sold as snow crabs, such as the tanner crab, which bears a striking resemblance to the opies but the tanner can be twice the size of the opies The tanner crab is also a brownish-red in color instead of red like the opies.


  • 2 snow crab clusters
  • 1 gal water
  • 2-4 Tbsp salt
  • 8 Tbsp butter
  • Lemon

Snow Crab Recipe: Frozen Snow Crab Clusters Boiled in Salt Water, Served with Clarified Butter and Lemon

  1. Pick up some snow crab. Snow crab is a popular item in America’s grocery stores. Usually when they have it in stock, it will be on special promotion. This is the time to buy it. In Alaska, snow crab fishing begins in October and goes until May. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to eat snow crab in the summer and fall; it just probably won’t be as fresh.
  2. Boil saltwater to cook snow crab. Crab is traditionally cooked in sea water. Luckily, this crab most likely was. Because of a raw crab’s physical characteristics, your crab was cooked moments after it was unloaded from the boat, while it was hopefully still alive. Therefore all you are really doing now is reheating it. Heat up some saltwater on the stove in a pot large enough to contain the whole thing.
  3. Drop snow crab into boiling water. Wait until you have a strong rolling boil before you put the crab in the pot. A large stock pot will work the best for large quantities. Once you drop the crab in, cover the pot and let it come back to a gentle simmer. If the crab is thawed, leave it in the pot for 4‒5 minutes. If your crab is frozen, leave it in the pot for 8‒9 minutes.
  4. Drain snow crab, crack, and serve. Take the snow crab out of the water, and let it drain for a minute on the cutting board. You may notice that the crab shell has a white powdery stain on it. It is very light, but if you want to cover it up, use a pastry brush and brush a little oil on the shell. This will give the shell a sheen.

Tips & Tricks

  • Snow crab, like most crab, is kept alive until it’s brought to port. Once there, they are quickly cooked and processed into clusters and rapidly frozen. The industry has found this to be the best way to keep their product fresh and prevent spoilage. And I believe them. I mean Alaska is a long way away. And Alaskan crab is really, really good. But still I would like to try it fresh, which means I am going to have to go there during fishing season. Believe me, I would be completely fine with that.