The Alaskan King Crab season is over and done with and here I am reminiscing this delicious crustacean. Pardon me while I post this so I’ll remember what to order next time, and be able to compare as well. Due to busy schedules and spring break with the fam, I only attended/organized one king crab feast this year, compared to a whopping three (!!!) in 2013. I saved two crabs this year.
Last month, thirteen friends gathered around the biggest table at Red Star Seafood Restaurant in Vancouver on a Monday, after work. We ordered the heaviest crab available, a modest ten-pounder. [You can call ahead to reserve not only the table, but the crab with specified weight and other dishes, like the baked tapioca dessert.]
We met, inspected and took photos of our ocean friend before giving the thumbs up to the server to prepare it four-ways:
- steamed legs,
- deep fried knuckles,
- noodles with juices from the steam legs, and
- Portuguese curry rice.
It’s common to order the size of the king crab according to how many people would be served, which would be at least a pound per person. Because we ordered a lot of other dishes, our ten-pounder was more than enough for all of us. Another good reason to bring a troop of eaters, aside from getting a chance to see many friends together for a meal (and meet new ones they bring along to the feast), it presents a fantastic opportunity to order more dishes than what you would usually order if you’re just a group of four. Everyone just needs uphold their duty to be hungry enough for the meal. I, for one, ate a light lunch. This is serious eating.
The first dish to arrive at our table, on what has to be the biggest lazy susan we’ve ever seen (the table seats 16), is the shiny, crispy, Peking duck skin with piping hot fresh steamed pancakes, green shallots and their special hoisin sauce. You should have heard the Oohs and Aahs. Apparently we made some of our younger guests very happy at that point. Squee! The skins were excellent and served exactly twelve, which is perfect because J is pescetarian.
Having a big group also ensured we ate each dish in moderation. I could very well have eaten this by myself.
The next dish to arrive was the minced duck meat and lettuce, eaten together as a wrap, which were very tasty together. Warm sautéed duck meat in a bed a fresh lettuce is just the thing to help transition from the richness of the duck skin to the crab dishes. The duck was overshadowed briefly when the first plate of king crab made its entrance a few seconds later.
And for good reason. These portion-sized and pre-cracked steamed crab legs were succulent with just enough fresh garlic to complement the sweet meat. The flesh was easy to pull out of the shell.
The second crab dish was deep fried crab knuckles, crunchy, salty and peppery–just the way I like it. It could definitely use a bit more kick, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t have that high of a tolerance for spiciness.
All the sauce that was left over from the first plate of steamed crabs were poured into a bowl of noodles. It looks so pale and almost unappetizing, but what it lacks in visual impact, it makes for in flavor. Just think about it: all. that. crab. juice.
Last, but not the least of the king crab dishes included in the four-way feast, is the Portuguese curry fried rice. You’d think at this point we’d be rolling off our chairs in gluttony. Nope. There’s always more space for this fluffy rice concoction. I like that their like their curry rice is never heavy, with a light hand on that curry so it doesn’t completely overpower the underlying crab flavor.
We went over-the-top crabby by getting a plate of dungeness crab fried rice. While the Portuguese rice was soft and unctuous, this is crunchy and on the dry side. Confession: I love “dry” rice. This just hits the spot.
I did say we ordered more dishes: steamed gai lan with oyster sauce, salt and pepper fish, and a whole steamed fish. [No photos, unfortunately. Too busy eating.] We also had two tofu dishes, one steamed and one braised.
The steamed tofu and scallops with black bean sauce had a nice balance of flavors. In contrast, the braised bean curd with vegetables had that chewy skin, which I love. We didn’t realize the latter would come with gai lan, too, so we were kind of gai-lan-ed for the night.
Oh, and in support of our friend’s quest for the best sweet and boneless pork dish, we got an order of that, too. The outside was crispy and it didn’t swim in excess sauce, which is a plus. It was pretty good, but not the best, a few people concurred.
For dessert, I pre-ordered the special baked tapioca for us to share. The meal did include their complementary cookies, but the tapioca is what we look forward to and expect to have after one epic king crab feast. One of our guests is a chef, so he brought some of his current experiments in the kitchen, too.
All in all we had 14 dishes in total, including dessert. The market price for the crab was CA$28.80 per pound that day, which was the same price at Sun Sui Wah, according to friends of ours who were there for another crab feast. In total, including tip (but minus drinks), it was only $51 per guest. By king crab feast standards, that’s quite reasonable, if not on the cheaper end.
Bye crabs. Next up: spot prawn festival!