Red the Steakhouse Gets First Shipment of Alaskan King Crab

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Usually, Alaskan king crabs don't arrive in restaurants until sometime in October. But if you have connections, you can get these tasty crustaceans flown in directly from the Bering Sea about six weeks before anyone else gets their claws on them.

In this case, it's a steak house that has first dibs on the giant fruit of the sea.

See also: Rare Blue Lobsters at Red The Steakhouse

Red the Steakhouse's Peter Vauthy has a particular fondness for the crabs and seeks out the first catch of the season. According to the chef, "as of this time, I only know of two boats that are fishing this early. These boats are bringing in golden and brown Alaskan king crab, which have an earlier season than red king crab, which starts in October."

The crabs are flown in directly from the boats and arrive at Red within a day of their catch. Vauthy says freshness takes the taste "to another level. The king crab, literally, is out of the water less than 24 hours by the time it shows up here at Red.

"You can actually smell the Bering Sea on the crab when I opened the box this morning. We get them so early because I stay in contact with these warriors of the sea and am always ready to jump on the opportunity to share something so delicious with my guests."

Vauthy, who spent a summer working in Alaska on a fishing boat, says harvesting the giant creatures is as perilous as television depicts it. "The season starts with the naming of all the fishermen who didn't survive the previous season. In retrospect, that should have been a clue that it was not the safest of jobs. King crab fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet, and that job has changed over the years from a catch as much as you can to a quota system. It is now a bit more civilized, and this makes crab somewhat more accessible."

Red the Steakhouse via Facebook
The chef's experiences on the boat included falling in love with the succulent denizens of the deep, which can weigh as much as 24 pounds and reach six feet from claw to claw. "When I was up there, I saw all the crab being processed at the big plants. It was there that I had my first taste of what the crab fisherman called 'Bering Sea gold.' The taste lingered forever, and I was hooked. When I became a chef, I knew there had to be a market for something of this quality, but no one would ship to me direct. There was talk that there was a company trying to make it happen. In comes the crab broker trying to get chefs to experience what I already know, that fresh King Crab is one of the finest things that mother nature has to offer."

If you want to get a taste of Bering Sea gold, Red the Steakhouse serves a one-and-a-half pound portion of King Crab, simply shelled, hot or cold, for $79. As the chef puts it, "no butter is needed for the finest crab as fresh as this -- just a hint of lemon." Crab cakes, made with the sweet flesh, are also available for $29.

Follow Laine Doss on Twitter @LaineDoss and Facebook.

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