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The majority of crabmeat used in recipes originates from a can -- the labour intensiveness of cooking and carefully removing the meat without breaking it proves non-profitable for most restaurants and home cooks. However, several purveyors package high-quality crabmeat suitable for the same applications as fresh crab. Also, a large price disparity exists between grades of crabmeat, but understanding each grade's ideal uses assists in achieving value and optimal results.
Use colossal and jumbo lump crabmeat in preparations that place importance on aesthetics. Jumbo lump crabmeat originates from muscles that power the crab's swimming fins, and its relatively high-cost results from the time-consuming task of removing the meat intact. Worthy preparations for jumbo lump meat include crab salads, crab cocktails and preparations that require only slight heating. Jumbo lump is also ideal for solid crab cakes -- crab cakes that have minimal ingredients, such as a light binder and seasoning only. Do not mask the flavour of colossal or jumbo lump crabmeat with pungent flavours and obtrusive spices; also, do not use it in recipes that prescribe mincing or chopping the crab. When pricey jumbo lump crabmeat is broken up, it essentially turns into less-costly backfin meat, which is comprised of pieces of jumbo lump that were broken during processing.
Add backfin crabmeat, commonly referred to as lump crabmeat, to recipes that require the clean taste of crab but not whole, intact pieces. Lump crabmeat is considerably less costly that colossal or jumbo crabmeat, yet retains its pureness of flavour when handled properly. Apt preparations for lump crabmeat include risottos, pasta-based dishes, baked dishes and cold soups, such as variants of gazpacho.
Incorporate white crabmeat into recipes that do not showcase the unadulterated taste of crab. For instance, some recipes, such as Maryland crab cakes, require myriad ingredients -- among them Old Bay and Worcestershire -- that effectively inundate the palate with complex flavour profiles. White crabmeat is ideal for these recipes, as well as those that involve mincing the meat or frying it. Ideal preparations for white crabmeat include starters, spreads and dips. White crab pieces are also used as a garnish to finish bisques and other soups.
Utilise crab claw meat in recipes that call for aggressive seasoning or high-heat cooking methods, such as broiling and sautéing. Claw meat receives more use than other parts of the crab, and as a result has a firmer texture and consistency. It also has a stronger flavour than other types of crabmeat. Recipes best suited for claw meat include crab melts, gratins and bouillabaisse, a hearty seafood stew from the Provence region of France.
- The Professional Chef 8th Edition"; The Culinary Institute of America; 2006
- "Food Lover's Companion 3rd Edition"; Sharon Tyler Herbst; 2001
- Booyah: Crab Types and Grades of Crabmeat Page Two: Grades of Crabmeat
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