Alaska Collection

Working as a chef in Alaska has it's pros and cons. The con, of course, is the great distance from many suppliers in the Lower 48. But the pro—outstanding and fresh local seafood—definitely outweighs distance. In Alaska, local is divine.

"All the fresh seafood here definitely keeps me stimulated," says Chef Wes Choy from Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge. He's the executive chef at the Foraker Dining Room and has worked in kitchens across the continent and around the world. And although it's practically impossible to ask a chef for his favorite all-time meal, Chef Choy joins the chorus and says if he had to pick a favorite, "of course it would be Alaskan red king crab. There is no substitute to having freshly prepared Alaskan king crab that was caught right off the shores of Alaska."

The rise of television programs like Deadliest Catch has heightened interest in Alaska king crab, how hard it is to catch and how exclusive it is to actually enjoy it on your plate. Chef Choy says it's definitely a popular item on the Foraker menu.

"From a taste standpoint, king crab really stands alone. I don't think we ever get someone disappointed in this meal. If you've had it, you love it."

A chef puts the finishing touches on a plate of food, ready to be served.

But it's about more than pop culture. Alaska king crab is an incredibly rewarding choice for its flavor alone.

"From a taste standpoint, king crab really stands alone," he says. "I don't think we ever get someone disappointed in this meal. If you've had it, you love it."

Alaskan King crab: Wild, Sustainable and Good for you

Chef Choy says here are three reasons it's so good. First of all, Alaska king crab is way bigger than any other crab out there. And yet it's much more delicate and soft in appearance. It's loaded with what Chef Choy describes as "sweetness and meatiness" unlike any other crab meat in the world.

Then, there's the healthy factor—it's a leaner protein than other crab meats, low in both fat and calories. It comes in at around 100 calories and 19 grams of protein per 100 grams of meat. Alaska King crab is rich in high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids. It's good for your heart, muscles, joints, eyes and even your brain!

A server brings a plate of king crab to a couple seated for dinner.

Finally, thanks to popular culture, now people understand how king crab is harvested, and how dangerous and complicated it was to just get it on your plate. King crab fishing is considered one of the most dangerous jobs in America. And it's actually very sustainable as well.

Alaska implements stringent catch rules and stock rebuilding plans which limit the total allowable catch to a small fraction of the adult male king crab population, Chef Choy says. There's only so much of it available. Travelers need to be on the look out to make sure that the king crab they're ordering while in Alaska is actually from Alaska (versus a lower-quality Russian crab that is appearing more and more, Chef Choy says). When it's the real deal, it's allure is hard to resist, like a taste of wild Alaska.

"I love that Alaska king crab is always wild caught, harvested in the pristine and hazardous waters off Alaska's coast," he says. "The romanticism of the adventure and struggle to harvest Alaska king crab never wanes for me."

A chef takes Alaska King Crab legs out of an oven.

A chef plates vegetables on a plate.

A chef places Alaska King Crab legs on a dinner plate.

A chef holds a dinner plate of Alaska King Crab legs.

How to prepare Alaska King crab

Sure, it can be challenging (some might say "messy") to eat, but Chef Choy says preparing Alaska King crab properly is actually quite simple.

In the kitchen at Foraker, he carefully steams the Alaska king crab legs whole to maintain moisture. Preparing the legs whole allows the crab meat to cook in its own juices, which results in a more succulent flavor, he says. Then, his team splits the legs so guests aren't getting too messy. It's then plated alongside local root vegetables that are seasonally available, rice or potatoes, some lemon and a big bowl of melted butter.

The butter adds umami taste and savoriness to it, and Chef Choy says a side of lemon adds acidity, both key enhancing the king crab's flavor.

That sweet, juicy meat dipped in butter is Chef Wes Choy's go-to recommenadation.

Don't Miss this Only-in-Alaska Experience

Order Chef Choy's Alaska king crab at Foraker Dining Room at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge. Or, upgrade your Kenai Fjords Tours dinner cruise to include Alaska king crab served on the remote Fox Island.

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