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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Awesomeness Alert: King Crab at Ken's Seafood

We've been fans of the fresh fish at Ken's Seafood in Chinatown since their opening night almost two years ago. We always scan the tanks at the front of the restaurant on our way in, and also ask Ken if there's anything especially good. We've often enjoyed the fresh, vivid taste of live scallops, shrimp, finned fish, eels, geoduck clams and Dungeness crabs. There's always variation in what's available on any given day, but on a recent visit, we saw something we'd never seen there before: a huge King Crab, looking like it might push its way out out of its tank. They don't regularly have these creatures, but someone had requested one for a special dinner, and Ken got two, just in case. So this one happened to be available. We decided it was a sign.

We happened to be marking a significant event, which made it seem doubly appropriate, so we seized the moment and asked Ken to cook it up for us. It weighed about 7 pounds, a little intimidating-looking, with spiny, spindly legs, but luckily, not very large claws, and was not especially happy about being removed from its tank. If you're looking for fresh crabs, I suppose they're going to fight back a little...

We left it up to Ken about how to prepare it. He told us he'd do it in two courses, but we were left to wonder what those would be, but we knew from previous experience that it would be fairly straightforward, highlighting the super-fresh ingredients.

The first course was the legs, quickly wok-roasted with just a little bit of an XO-sauce-like accent of minced garlic, shallot and other mysterious spices crusting the shells. The legs are so large that it was easy to extract large pieces of pure, sweet, unadulterated crab meat, with just a hint of spicing picked up in the process.

Just a we were thinking that these crab legs were the most delicious things we'd ever eaten, the second course arrived. It was the body of the crab, cracked open and steamed with garlic, served over fresh noodles, and might have been even more tasty.
OK, sure, the odds of stumbling across an unclaimed live King Crab in a tank in Chinatown are pretty small. And it's not cheap - this one was about $120 (a bargain compared to the more common price of $25-30 per pound, if you can even get it) but there's a lot to eat on a crab this size, so we felt like it was actually a good value, not just an extravagant indulgence.

It's good to know that it's possible to get a crab like this, in season, and that the chef at Ken's knows how to cook them perfectly. We might not rely completely on luck in the future, if we have some special occasion to mark, we just might need to see if Ken can order one for us.

Ken's Seafood Restaurant
1004 Race St
Philadelphia, PA

Other Ken's Posts: New Highlight , Duck Tongues

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