The tender, briny meat inside crab legs is a delicacy worth the extra effort of penetrating such a hard outer shell. Crab legs are commonly sold to consumers precooked, as evidenced by the shell's bright orange color, which helps alleviate health concerns related to undercooked seafood. If frozen, make sure you thaw the crab legs prior to reheating them to ensure the meat warms evenly throughout by letting them sit in the refrigerator overnight, running them under cold water or placing them in the microwave on a "defrost" setting. Once the crab legs are fully thawed, you can use several reheating methods depending on your available resources, time and personal tastes.
Using a microwave is the least desirable method of defrosting, as it often creates overcooked hot spots that make the meat tougher and less tender. Microwave-thawed legs should be warmed and served immediately for best results.
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• Preparation: Place 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of sea salt into a steamer pot. The salt adds flavor and makes the water boil faster. Place the pot over a high flame and let it come to a boil.
• Cooking: Place the crab legs into a colander and set it over the boiling water. Cover the colander with a lid to trap the steam and cook for about 6 minutes, or until you can easily smell the aroma of cooked crab meat.
• Preparation: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. At the same time, arrange your crab legs in a shallow baking pan, ensuring they are not stacked or overlapped. Add 1/8 inch of hot water and cover the pan with aluminum foil; this keeps the legs moist during the cooking process.
• Cooking: Place the covered pan into the oven and cook for 7 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees. This allows them to heat evenly throughout. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.
• Preparation: Place the crab legs in a microwave-safe container. For every 8 ounces of crab legs you make, add 1 tablespoon of water. Cover the container.
• Cooking: Place the container in the microwave and cook for 3 1/2 minutes on high for every 8 ounces of crab.
• Preparation: Fill a large pot halfway with cold water and add 2 tablespoons of sea salt. You may also add any other seasonings you want to the water. Place the pot over a high flame until it begins to boil.
• Cooking: Add the crab legs to the boiling water. Reduce the heat to a medium setting and cook for about 6 minutes. Then remove the legs from the water and let them drain for 2 minutes.
Boiling is not recommended for king crab legs, as direct exposure to boiling water can make the meat soggy while diminishing its delicate flavors.
• Preparation: Light the charcoal briquettes in your grill and allow them to reach a steady smolder. At the same time, baste your crab legs in a thin layer of olive oil so they do not stick to the grilling rack.
• Cooking: Place the crab legs evenly across the grilling rack, and then cover them. The grill should reach a temperature of 300 degrees, which you can measure with a grill thermometer. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, turn them over, re-cover them, cook for another 5 minutes. Remove them from the grill and allow them to cool for 2 minutes.
These reheating methods can be used for leftover cooked crab legs, as well. Cooking times may vary depending on the size and type of crab legs. Smaller snow crab legs may cook slightly faster than larger king crab legs; similarly, thawed legs cook faster than frozen ones.
Be careful not to overcook your legs, or you risk losing flavor and giving the meat a rubbery texture. Once the entire leg has turned bright orange and emits a strong crabby odor, the flesh inside is cooked.