Here in California we are very lucky to have access to fresh seafood, even traveling here to the Inland Empire it's not hard to come by. When we get a craving for Crustaceans we can visit our local "99 Ranch" Market. they have seasonal varieties of fish, shrimp, lobster, scallops, mussels, clams and crab and more.The butcher will go to the tank and pull out a crab, and you just need to ask them to steam it for you. The service is free, regardless of the size you pick. It takes about 15 minutes, you just need to bring them the receipt before they can start cooking.
The option is quick and easy, you just need to take it home! The service is only available until 8PM, and depending on the day you might wait in line.
If you ever cooked Crustaceans at home you understand it takes the right cookware, it's an added expense. Not to mention the sound that a lobster makes being plunged into a huge pot of boiling water. It's better to have the professionals do it for you.
Once you get home, you still need to prepare the crab. If you don't know how to eat steamed crab, it is basically flipping the crab on its back and separating the shell. Make sure to take out the poop sack (which contains a lot of bacteria). I would suggest doing a little research online. My wife can clean a crab like a pro, so I've watched the process, it's less difficult than you might imagine.
We save all the “tomalley”, which is part of the molting process. Basically it's the juices and inside fat of the crab, which we cook with rice later. Tomalley is tasty, so don't throw it out!
It's impossible not to love crab, but be sure you're not allergic. If you don't want to go to a restaurant you can bring it home cooked and ready for some melted butter.
99 Ranch is now in both Northern and Southern California. The crab above was on sale (for Fathers Day) it was $17.99/lb. It ended up costing $48.39 total. You don't have to get a crab as large as ours, 99 Ranch made it easy to pick the right size for you e.g. usually separating them into large and small tanks. Prices have really increased, but if you can get crab or lobster on sale I would highly recommend trying it.