Working in the industry for over 10 years with thousands of different seafood items and hundreds of thousands of different customers, I have been approached with a simple question numerous times over that has not always been easy to answer; What's your favorite seafood? I love seafood. It is a passion of mine. From protecting it to enjoying it on a plate, I have to say in general that my last meal would definitely be seafood focused. When I get this question though, my first reaction is always; 'well it depends on what's fresh, what's in season.' I say this because I really do enjoy it all. If pressed though, and it happens in most cases, my answer would have to be fresh, never frozen, red king crab legs.
Most people never get to enjoy red king crab legs fresh out of Alaska. The majority of crab gets frozen right away and packed, then shipped all over the world. The season is very short, being based on quotas, and usually ends abruptly after only a few weeks. The work is treacherous. This can easily be discerned by the title of the show The Deadliest Catch, which depicts brave fishermen braving devastating waves and frigid temperatures in order to eek out a living providing alot of crab in a short period of time.
My first taste came in 2008 when the wholesaler I was working for brought in a 50lb case of the fresh never frozen crabs for a high-end customer. In reality only the higher-end restaurants can afford these rare legs, at the time we were reselling to restaurants for over $30/lb. It was close to Thanksgiving at the time and I took it upon myself to snag a couple of legs, you know for all the hard holiday work I was doing. I knew they were rare and I knew that I might not ever get another chance to enjoy them. What I experienced was seafood heaven. I am sure most of us have enjoyed a previously frozen crab leg, and for the most part, they are great. It just does not compare when and if you get to taste one of the few never frozen king crab legs. The flavor was succulent, ocean sweet. The richness of butter and salt turned over in my mouth, the meaty texture giving way to an umami unequaled and unrivaled, even when compared to the endangered blue fin tuna toro. I ended up purchasing 3lbs of the legs, that was all I could afford or I would have gladly taken more. I have not been able to get my hands on fresh king crab legs since, until now.
With the season coming to a close, I am happy to say that BlackSalt Market has a limited quantity of Fresh Red King Crab Legs flying in tonight straight from Dutch Harbor, Alaska. It's been four years since I have been able to experience the mouth changing deliciousness of fresh king crab. There have been many contenders in that time, but when being honest with myself, nothing has been able to replace that flavor that I have been dreaming of ever since. It's a rare treat. I know and understand that the price tag is very high. I also realize that these men who fish for the crab risk their lives to sustainably harvest them and that getting them here fresh is more complicated than one might expect. I do not expect them to be for everyone, the price is just too high. But I do know that everyone who tastes them will have a lingering nostalgia that just won't go away, a delightful itch that might never be scratched again. And possibly a regret that they didn't get more of it.