For tips on buying the best crab and other feast-worthy seafood, we talked to Elliott Myers, Seafood Coordinator for Whole Foods. He’...

For tips on buying the best crab and other feast-worthy seafood, we talked to Elliott Myers, Seafood Coordinator for Whole Foods. He’s a walking, talking trove of information.

The holidays promise to be extra-festive this year. After the big disappointment of no crab last winter (thanks to toxic algae), our crab season is set to open on schedule November 15. Hurrah hurrah!

Here are choice nuggets of seafood-buying and cooking info from Elliott, who manages one of the finest and most sustainable seafood programs in the country.



Does size matter?

“Customers typically ask for the biggest crabs. But bigger doesn’t equal better in this case. Go for a medium-size crab that’s heavier than others of comparable size; that means there’s more meat in the shell. Also, look for a crab with all of its legs—if any are missing, that could be an indication of poor-quality handling.”


How do you choose good cooked crab?

“As the fishmonger when it was cooked. If it’s within 48 hours, you’ll have fantastic crab. Also, ask whether they’ll crack and clean for you. Whole Foods does it free of charge.”


What’s the best way to handle live crab, if you’re cooking it yourself?

“Keep them refrigerated to slow them down. Chilling also helps them cook more evenly. Grab them from the back, away from the claws. At Whole Foods, though, we don’t cook live crab. It’s an ethical decision.”


What’s your favorite way to eat crab?

“I’m a purist. I like crab just the way it is, served cold, with either melted butter or spicy cocktail sauce.”


Are you a piler or a pick-as-you-go person?

“Definitely a picker. My dad is a piler, and it drives me nuts. I don’t have the patience—I have to eat as I go.”


For impeccably tested Sunset recipes for crab, click here.





What are the signs of good caviar?

“First, make sure you’re buying from an informed fishmonger, so they can talk you through the various kinds to make sure you like what you’ll be buying. Then, look for eggs that are intact, glossy, and full—no standing liquid. Also, go to the company website to get descriptions of the caviars.”


What’s your favorite brand?

“All the caviar in our Northern California stores—sturgeon, trout roe, whitefish, salmon—comes from Tsar Nicoulai, based just south of Sacramento. It’s super cool. The sturgeon are sustainably grown in tanks there, and all the caviar is high grade. The company is very transparent about what they do, which is unusual in an industry that’s often shrouded in secrecy.”


What’s your favorite way to eat caviar?

“On devilled eggs and Tater Tots, and on salted potato chips with a bit of crème fraiche.”


Whole carp with fried potatoes. (Photo by ALLEKO / Getty Images)




An entire fish, baked in salt or roasted, makes a stunning main course. How to pick a good fresh one?

“Always get one with clear eyes. The exception is rockfish (aka Pacific cod). They live deep, so when they’re pulled up, the pressure can affect the eyes. The alternative check is the gills: they should be bright red and have a fresh ocean smell.”


What kind of fish should you choose?

“Choose a fish with a flavor profile that suits your recipe. If you want large fish, preorder (a 5-pound fish feeds 4 people). If you’re stuffing the fish, choose one with a belly cavity big enough to fit the stuffing.”


Do you need particular equipment to cook a whole fish?

“Make sure you have pans big enough to roast or otherwise cook your fish, and make sure it’ll fit in your oven!”


Your favorite way to cook whole fish?

“I like branzino. Cut 5 slits on the side, rub with olive oil, and season heavily with salt and granulated garlic. Broil it right next to the broiler until the skin is crisp.”


Thanks, Elliott!

To get cooking, check out Sunset’s deep collection of sustainable seafood recipes.


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