Food smoking has existed for thousands of years and is believed to be among the earliest food preservation and cooking techniques. Long before developing more advanced food preservation methods like refrigeration, food smoking was a top food storage method.
The acidic coating from the smoke is known to help prevent oxidation and slow down the growth of the bacteria, increasing shelf life. Smoking also helps to dehydrate meat, making the environment less hospitable to bacteria.
As new and more effective methods come up, smoking has equally evolved from just a food preservation method to one of the most popular food cooking techniques used to enhance flavor and color. Part of the growing trend in smoking circles is smoked seafood. From salmon to shrimp, tuna, and crab, the food smoking community is trying different cooking techniques to elevate their experience with countless recipes available online. We’ll now look at how to smoke seafood like smoked crab claws to get superb results.
How to smoke seafood
Smoking seafood is easy and can be done in either two ways: cold smoking and hot smoking.
This is smoking done under lower temperatures and is best used when you want to enhance the smoky flavor.
Unlike cold smoking, hot smoking involves higher temperatures, creating a favorable environment for your meat to cook slowly. However, what these two methods have in common is that they both enhance the smoky flavor.
Smoking crab claws
While we love seafood, the majority of us shy away from smoking seafood like crab claws. Most argue that the smoke can’t penetrate the crab shells sufficiently, making it complicated. On the contrary, like smoking any other seafood, it’s quite easy, and with the proper technique, you’ll end up with a delicious smoked crab claw in just a few hours.
What you will need:
- A quality food smoker
- Crab claws
- ¼ cup salt
- ½ tablespoon peppercorns
- ½ tablespoon mustard seeds
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon celery seeds
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons dill seeds
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons whole allspice berries
- 4 bay leaves
Brining is a technique used with seafood and other proteins. As our recipe calls for seafood, brining will add flavor and moisture. This ensures that you have a great-tasting and juicy meal, even when you don’t add marinades or rubs.
Check out our entire catalog of articles on brining and curing your meat here:
What’s the Difference Between Pickling, Brining, Marinating, and Curing?
Curing and Smoking Meats for Home Food Preservation
Directions On Brining And Curing Your Meat For Food Smoking
Best seafood brine
- 1/2 gallon water
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons dill seeds
- 2 bay leaves
How to make the brine:
- Over medium heat, bring water and the other ingredients to a simmer.
- Stir and continue to simmer until the salt and sugar have fully dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and cool.
- Add your crab claws to the mixture.
- Put your crabs in a zipper bag and refrigerate for around an hour.
- Remove the brine, rinse with cold water, and dry.
It’s important to note that this applies mostly when you are not adding other spices.
Smoking crab claws:
- If frozen, defrost your crab claws. This can be done by running cold water over your crab crawls or letting it stay in the refrigerator for a few hours until they’ve finished thawing.
- Then crack the shells slightly to enable the smoke to penetrate during smoking. This can be done using a seafood cracker.
- Melt some butter, either by microwaving it or on the stove.
- Once it has completely melted, put it in a bowl and add your seasonings depending on the flavor you want.
- Mix thoroughly and dip your crab claws in the mixture.
- Preheat your food smoker to a temperature of 225 °F (107 °C).
- Place your claws in the food smoker and let them cook for about 30–40 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
Bradley tips and tricks on smoking crab claws
Before we proceed to serve, here are some Bradley tips to help with your crab claw smoking:
- When preparing the basting butter, ensure you sieve the thick, white foamy layer on the surface when you are done melting it. This is because these milk solids can alter the flavor of the butter, which in turn affects the final taste.
- It’s also important to note that most fresh crabs you buy from a fish shop will be pre-cooked, so don’t smoke for too long as you might end up with an overcooked crab claw.
- Lastly, ensure that the smoker’s temperature is correct before placing your crabs in the food smoker.
Crab crawls can be served alongside several dishes, including lemon wedges, French bread, aioli, or French fries.
Food smoking isn’t that complicated. As new products continue to flood the market, there are a number of choices that can help you elevate your seafood smoking.
For more great ideas on how to get the most out of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.