The red king crab is a giant crustacean native to the Alaskan coast and the Bering sea. They can grow up to two metres from claw-to-claw. Fleshy and tasty, they are considered a delicacy by many, especially in Asian countries.
Norway didn’t always have the king crab. They migrated from Alaska to make the most of the Arctic waters. However, Russian Scientists sped up the migration when they were experimenting with breeding near the Russian-Norwegian border to increase the yearly yield of their fisheries. The crab thrived in the Barents Sea environment and it didn’t take long for them to migrate into the lush Norwegian waters. Now the crab can found along the entire northern coast of Norway – it has become a invasive species.
Norwegian scientists are concerned for the natural ecosystem as the crab devours everything in its path. Many crabs are culled, and there is a small but strong industry of exporting live frozen crab to China (the crab can be frozen up to 24 hours and defrosted for a live sale), however, there are still only a limited number of fishermen that have permits to fish the crab commercially. But, you can certainly do your part to help the environment by eating your fair share on a King Crab Safari – a win/win.
I was lucky enough to go on a King Crab Safari with Destinasjon 71° Nord at Honningsvåg. The tour company offers safaris as part of their summer experiences. The package included an open boat ride out to the crab pods, instruction on how to handle, slaughter and cook the crabs, and finished with a king crab meal in a lavvu. Of course, there were many photo ops.
(The head tour guide was kind enough to pose for my camera.)
We had the opportunity of holding the crabs while on the dock, practicing the technique shown us so we didn’t get caught by the giant nipper. The crabs were quite heavy, and some were more feisty than others.
The guides were great with answering all the questions by us tourists, they were knowledgable about the crabs and the industry, and threw in a few funny stories, while they slaughtered and divided the crab. If you want to participate in the butchering, speak up, otherwise you can just watch.
After the crab was boiled in a pot of sea water over the open fire inside the lavvu, it was rinsed in cold sea water to cool it down. The shell was then cut to make it easier to get to the flesh.
Back in the lavvu, the crab was served only with bread to allow room for two or three helpings. And the taste…? I’ll let you decide.
The tour was a nice half-day adventure that the whole family could enjoy. But, if you love crab, this experience should be on your bucket list.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.