Crab meets microwave / To zap or to steam, which method is best?

In the Dec. 24 “ Seafood by the Season ” column, we told you that lobster was great cooked in the microwave. As quick as the honk that sounds at the end of a cook cycle, hundreds of beeps went off in local food lovers ‘ brains : If lobster is good in the microwave, what about crab ? I beep. You beep. We all beep crabs. So we tried microwaving cancer in The Chronicle ‘s test kitchen. We microwaved crab equitable as we did the lobster, in an oven bag with a tablespoon of water, and in a bowl enclosed snugly by plastic envelop. We tasted it against crab steamed in a wok above boiling water. We besides tasted it against pre-boiled crab .
Unlike the lobster, no one method acting cinched ( or should we say pinched ? ) the gain. steam and microwave clawed equally for the top spot.

We ran two tests .
In the first taste, the microwave translation won, hands down. The crab, like that of the microwave lobster, had a satiny finish and tasted intensely of crab louse — no watered-down spirit here .
When we repeated the examination, things turned top down. Everyone remarked how Crab # 1 ( steamed ) and Crab # 2 ( microwaved ) were identical. It was so hard to determine differences that Food section staffers stood around the counter and kept eating crab — back and forth, back and forth, on and on —
until everything was gone .
By the meter the shells were mounded and votes were counted, the steamer interpretation came in first ; the microwave took second place. One person preferred the boughten churn cancer and gave it first gear place .
What happened in the irregular test ? My suffice : one cooked ; the other cool. In other words, the microwave crab louse continued cook, while the steam crab stopped cooking. While they were indistinguishable at beginning, by the end of the taste period the microwave crab had taken on a tough, over-cooked texture and had lost season .
In the first test we had cooked both crabs for a shorter fourth dimension, so the steam gripe tasted undercooked and the microwave cancer was just correctly .
The lesson
In both methods, it is critical to cook the crab a point. We ‘re convinced that if steamed correctly, either over boiling water or in the microwave, your crustaceous will turn out perfectly. Our lobster examination suggested exchangeable lessons, and the crab test confirmed it .
here ‘s what we can tell you about steaming on the stove. Create a steam outfit in a wok or stockpot. Make sure the toilet holds enough of water — at least 2 cups per crab. Place the gripe on a coat rack, a steam basket ( such as the one used for vegetables ) or flat bamboo basket .
ideally, the crab louse should be in something porous, but if that ‘s not possible, put them on a small plate positioned on an top down bowling ball or something to hold the plate above the water. The idea is to allow batch of steam to swirl up, around and above the cancer. Be sure the lid fits tightly and that the water is at a roll out boil .
critical factors
The weight of the crab, how much water is in the potentiometer and how tightly the lid fits will make a deviation in when you stop the cook. In the microwave, those factors are besides critical. The accompanying recipe gives a reasonably foolproof way of figuring the right total of clock time, but in general you should underestimate time. There ‘s nothing more disappoint than overcook crab .
It wo n’t hurt a bit
now that we know the microwave ca n’t hurt crab, you can constantly zap it for a few more seconds if the crab is undercooked. A crab cooked a point means that the pulp has barely turned completely opaque and not one second beyond that .
We besides tested cooking more than one crab. Unlike lobster, two, even three crabs can fit in the microwave, so it is possible to stage a cancer banquet ( for three ) in the microwave .
Steaming can cook up to as many crabs as your potentiometer can take. You have to play around a bite to find out the correct amount of time. We did not, to the disappointment of many here, test steaming four, five, six, seven … or even 10 crabs, but I ‘m pretty sure you do n’t want to go over 15 minutes entire cooking prison term, no matter how many crabs are in the pot .
Steamed Crab: Conventional & Microwaved
Make certain you have a pot ( or wok ) with a tight-fitting lid. The authoritative Chinese dip, with its sweet and sour elements, brings out the spirit of crab. It ‘s as easy to stir together as melted butter, and is nonfat .


For Conventional Crab
About 2 cups water
1 hot Dungeness crab ,
1 1/2 to 2 pounds
For Microwave Crab
1 live Dungeness crab ,
1 1/2 to 2 pounds
1 tablespoon water
1 heat-resistant oven bag ( Reynolds is one sword )
Black Vinegar Dipping Sauce

( Per Serving )
2 tablespoons brown Zejiang ( or Chekiang or Chinkiang ) vinegar
3 to 4 tablespoons body of water
2 teaspoons sugar
2 slices of fresh ginger, peeled if desired ,
finely julienned


For the conventional crab : Pour the water into a large wok or stockpot and put a single-foot above the water. Bring to a rapid boil .
locate the crab louse on the rack, cover tightly, and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the crab louse from the wok, crack it and serve with mellow butter or Black Vinegar Dipping Sauce .
To steam more than 1 crab, add 3 minutes for each extra 1 1/2 pounds of crab, up to 15 minutes. If cooking more than 1 crab, make surely the cancer are all about the like weight .
For the microwave crab : Put the crab and water in the bag, seal and microwave at entire power for 6 1/2 minutes. Remove the crab from the bag ( careful, it is highly hot ), fracture and serve. Add 1 1/2 minutes for each extra 1/2 pound of crab, up to 15 minutes .
note : cook 2 cancer at once works best if they are of peer weight — simply add 3 minutes of cook time for the second gear crab. Add about 1 minute for each extra crab louse, up to 15 minutes .
Vinegar dipping sauce : Combine all ingredients, stirring until the boodle dissolves. Serve with hot steamed crab .
due to the general nature of the recipe, there is no nutrition analysis .

Napa Cabbage & Crabmeat Gratin

Napa Cabbage & Crabmeat Gratin Used as a side-dish, this gratin, which pairs two ingredients that are hallmarks of winter with the beloved Swiss/French cheese, raclette, can dress up a poached, baked or broiled pisces fillet. It can besides be a main dish, and is even better prepared a day in progress .


4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt to taste
2 pounds white chinese cabbage cabbage, stems and leaves separated, cut into 2-inch- long segments
14 ounces wimp stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 heap cup fresh-picked crab ( 8+ ounces )
2 cups grated raclette cheese
1/4 cup impertinently grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
White pepper to taste


Heat the anoint in a wok, and add salt. Add the cabbage stalk sections and toss-fry until all are coated with vegetable oil and a few begin to turn translucent. Add the leaf sections and toss-fry. Pour in the stock and bring to a seethe. Cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender. Transfer to an 8-cup casserole or baking smasher .
Return the wok to the heat and add the butter. When the butter foam, sprinkle in the flour, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring for about 2 minutes, until the flour is cooked and gives off a nutty aroma. Do not let it brown. Remove from heat. Drain the liquid off the cook cabbage and add it to the roux, stirring constantly. Return to heat and cook until the sauce bubbles and thickens slightly. Remove from heat. Fold in the crab, then fold in 1 cup of the raclette .
Pour into the baking serve. Sprinkle with the remaining raclette and the Parmesan and season the top with white pepper .
Before serving, broil uncovered in a 350° oven for 30 minutes, or until bubbling. optional : place under broiler to brown the cheese.

Serves 4 as a independent cup of tea, 8 as a english cup of tea
PER MAIN-DISH serve : 545 calories, 34 gigabyte protein, 15 gravitational constant carbohydrate, 39 thousand fatten ( 16 gigabyte saturated ), 127 milligram cholesterol, 782 milligram sodium, 6 gigabyte character .