Costco sells 10 pounds of Alaskan king crab for $269. Sam’s Club offers 20 for $525. Either order, allegedly plucked by daring fisherman from the icy waters of the North Pacific, can be shipped straight to your home within a day or two.
But if you’re like me and prefer eating locally, you can head to Kirkenes, Norway, a remote outpost located 250 miles above the Arctic Circle, and catch your own.
A couple weeks ago, I took a Hurtigruten ship from Bergen, Norway, to its terminus in Kirkenes. Perched on the edge of the Siberian Taiga and just nine miles from the Russian border, Kirkenes is home to a motley collection of about 4,000 Sami people, Russians, oil prospectors, and immigrants who come to work the iron mines.
I was there to mark an item off my bucket list: a ringside seat to the Northern Lights. But while there, I figured I might as well check out the local fauna, which includes wolverines, bears, and the Arctic king crab, which quite regularly grow to six feet from claw to claw — a vise-like appendage known to remove human fingers. A single leg of these eight-legged behemoths can feed the average man.
Hurtigruten, in conjunction with the Kirkenes Snow Hotel, offers King Crab Safaris. I knew I had to go.
After suiting up in balaclavas, boots, and Abominable Snowman-like suits, my compadres and I boarded a wooden sledge pulled by a snowmobile that zipped across the frozen fjord where we drilled holes, set traps, and confronted the prehistoric-looking creatures head on.
Within 30 minutes after pulling up the traps and posing for pictures with our monstrous prey, we were back in a cozy wooden fisherman’s cabin enjoying a veritable mountain of king crab.
I felt a little guilty knowing that just minutes before we popped them into the giant boiling outdoor pots, our feast was a cast of living, breathing creatures. But Michael, our safari guide, assured us that these beasts (and that’s really the only way to describe them) are an invasive species that have been wiping out native populations ever since the Russians introduced them to the Murmansk Fjord in the 1960s. So, conscience assuaged, we eagerly savored the crabs with butter running down our chins, knowing we were actually doing the Norwegian Wildlife Services a favor.
Hurtigruten’s King Crab Safaris are offered mid-December to April 20 and include a guide, transportation, winter clothes, and an all-you-can eat meal of the best red king crab on the planet.