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Crab Mint Salad
This crab salad with lemongrass and mint pays homage to Thailand, where the blue crab is caught and canned. It showcases the beautiful white jumbo lump crab meat.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

BARBARA PENNY ANGELAKIS is Features Editor of Luxury Web, an online magazine for those who like the finer things.

 


November 2007

Updated February 2010

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Fish, Seafood & Caviar

Miller’s Select Premium Crab Meat

Jumbo Lump, Lump, White & Claw Meat From The Blue Crab

 

CAPSULE REPORT: If you’ve ever spent big money on a can of crab meat, only to be disappointed by the mediocre flavor and the pieces of shell—we feel your pain. We’ve thrown out more than a few such cans. That’s why we were so excited when NIBBLE contributor Barbara Penny Angelakis discovered Miller’s Select, premium wild catch crab meat. In addition, we’ve developed a separate article comparing crab meat grades and a “crab glossary,” to explain the different types of crabs. This is Page 1 of a two-page article. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.

Overview

Whether you are on a quest for the perfect crab cake or your diet enables you to luxuriate with crab cocktails, it stands to reason that the quality of your experience is based on the quality of the crab meat. Crab meat is not an inexpensive ingredient to “experiment” with, and most stores generally carry just one brand. You’d assume that your fishmonger or specialty food store carries the best—but after years of trying brand after brand, I found that bad assumption.

One day, after a particularly memorable crab cake at Tavern On The Green restaurant in New York City, I was so impressed by the quality of crab used in their cakes that I determined to learn more about processed crab meat in the hope I could duplicate, in my own kitchen, Chef Brian Young’s simple and yet simply divine recipe (below).

The hunt begins! I sampled products from six different purveyors, but stopped dead in my tracks when I tasted the crab meat from Sea Fare Foods’ Miller’s Select brand. Here were the most delicious, fresh-tasting, solid chunks of crabs I ever tasted and…they came out of a can.* While Miller’s Select claims to be the premium wild-catch blue clawed crab meat available in the marketplace, and we must concur, at least based on our sampling.

*Editor’s Note: Most crab meat is canned used in recipes is canned. Picking the meat from the shells is extremely labor-intensive, and most kitchens don’t have the staff to do the work. In addition, high-quality canned crab meat provides the opportunity to use crab meat from species that are not available locally.

Bill Miller, an engineer by training, left his home in Kansas City in 1964 to work on construction projects in Thailand. He fell in love with the land, its people, and the abundant blue clawed swimming crab that is renowned for its delicious meat. He brought it back to the U.S., where friends, naturally, asked for more. Voilà: Miller’s Select was born.

Fresh Canned Versus Shelf-Stable

The two key components in top-quality picked crab meat  are absolute freshness of the harvested crabs and meticulous attention to picking, so the crab meat remains in the largest possible pieces and with the  fewest possible pieces of shell. Toward this end, the finest picked crab has traditionally been a perishable, refrigerated product. Although pasteurized domestic and imported crab meat of  adequate quality is commonly available, it is rare to find gourmet-quality crab meat in a shelf-stable can (a non-perishable product that does not require refrigeration). In this regard, shelf-stable Miller's Select is in a class of its own.  

Take a look at the different grades of crab meat: Jumbo Lump, Lump (Backfin), White and Claw, and how you should use each grade.

Jumbo Lump Crab Meat - Miller's
Jumbo lump crab meat makes a beautiful
presentation in cocktails and crab cakes.

Creating The Best Canned Crab

In order to distribute this delicate product safely and with its sweet, succulent flavors intact, Bill Miller put all of his engineering skill into devising optimal harvesting, processing, packaging and shipping methods. An environmentalist, he insisted on developing techniques consistent with sound ecological and sustainable farming procedures—before being “green” was fashionable.

  • Miller’s Select has been working with the same Thai fishermen and cannery staff for years. Children often accompany their parents or grandparents to learn sustainable crabbing techniques and the importance of returning undersize crabs to their habitat. Crabs with a carapace width less than the minimum established by the state of Virginia, five inches, are released back into the sea.
  • You’ll notice that Miller’s Select is packed in small cans, only 6.5 ounces, not the larger cans that some brands use. This is what makes the crab better: during the pasteurization process that makes the meat shelf-stable, heat is able to penetrate to the center more quickly. This shorter process time means there is less disruption at the cellular level, and the natural flavor of fresh crab is protected. The use of bleaches, whiteners, and artificial flavor enhancers is unnecessary. The only other ingredient in the can besides crab is citric acid, a natural preservative that achieves pH balance.

 

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