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Crab Factor - A little less than a happy high — LiveJournal
Crab Factor
I have eaten more than my share of oysters, clams, and snails.

I'm entirely at home with a pile of crawfish (I even suck the heads).

I'm a proud veteran of the lobster wars, and although I'm not nearly as skilled as my clan matron (who can strip a cooked lobster of all edible meat in under 4 minutes), I very comfortable with these hard, spiny-shelled critters.

Oddly, when it comes to blue crab and the like served whole and unadulterated, I feel the blood drain from my face and I start trembling a little. My mind has steadfastly refused to wrap itself around methods to make them work as food. Even after having watched Alton Brown's episode on crab, I am still baffled about how flaky and delicious crabmeat is gleaned from a hockey puck with legs. I consider this to be one of my biggest culinary failings. Seriously... if AB can't demystify something for you, you know you're in trouble.

As there's a strong possibility that crab will factor into the coastal portion of the Great BBQ/Roller Derby Circuit coming up next month, I'd like to invite any of you who have the knowledge and desire out to help me along with my education. Within the next couple of weeks, maybe?

...and speaking of the Great BBQ/Roller Derby Circuit coming up next month, we'll be spending a fair amount of time traipsing through N. Carolina and then it's off to Columbus, OH. If you have any recommendations for must-sees/dos that aren't terribly touristy, please let me know. Plans so far are pretty free-form.
29 comments or Leave a comment
cook_ting From: cook_ting Date: July 24th, 2007 04:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Working with crab scares the shit out of me. It's so much work for so little meat and I always feel like I'm just making a mess of a perfectly good ingredient. It's getting on time for softshells and those are the crabbies for me. Tempura batter the lil fucker and toss him in some hot oil, then eat 'em whole.

If you feel you need practice there are always live crabs by the bunch at Haymarket. Nothing better than getting your hands into it and learning by feel, I suppose.
clayrobeson From: clayrobeson Date: July 24th, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I agree, they're too much work for too little payoff.

komos From: komos Date: July 24th, 2007 05:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've heard the same said about steamers, oysters, and crawfish. I think it comes down to a labor of love, and I'm guessing that I'd be more comfortable with them if I grew up on Chesapeake Bay as opposed to the Gulf of Maine.
tigermilkdrunk From: tigermilkdrunk Date: July 24th, 2007 05:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
As someone who fits that description, yes, you probably would be. While I gave up eating shellfish long ago, I have fond memories involving nothing but a large paper sack of crabs, a picnic table, some Old Bay and a hammer. All you need, really.
komos From: komos Date: July 24th, 2007 05:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's pretty much the experience I'm looking for. ^_^
komos From: komos Date: July 24th, 2007 05:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Softshells are a little intimidating, too, but since I don't have to think about taking them apart, I can get by. I feel like I should get over this, though, and I'd like to be able to get comfortable enough that I don't have to order crabcakes if we hit a shack along the way.

Up for a tutorial, maybe?
cook_ting From: cook_ting Date: July 24th, 2007 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't say I'm any good at crabs, but I'm always up for tearing things apart and eating their bits. I'm away this weekend, maybe next week?
komos From: komos Date: July 24th, 2007 06:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I could be down.
cook_ting From: cook_ting Date: July 24th, 2007 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
We can crunch together a nice court boullion for the boil and possibly bring some shrump to the table for easy meat relief after all the crab diggin. If we save shells you can make a shrimp and crab stock for bisque or possibly etouffe...

Haymarket typically has crabs for the cookin', maybe a soon saturday?
komos From: komos Date: July 24th, 2007 07:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love it when you talk shop. Yeah, let's do this.
cook_ting From: cook_ting Date: July 25th, 2007 01:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
What can I say? When I step to the mike I step correct.

bushidokelt From: bushidokelt Date: July 24th, 2007 07:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

On Softshell crabs

Don't grill, whatever you do. I tried this last summer. Just clean them, and deep bat fry!!!! Make sure you yous old bay
komos From: komos Date: July 24th, 2007 07:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

The simplest rigs are the best.

I thought of you a few weeks ago when I found a book on BBQ rigging. One of the guys they interviewed does enormous clambakes using banks of clean metal trash cans set up on propane burners. Water and seaweed goes in the bottom around a couple of cinder blocks, on top of which rests a huge mesh bag of goodies. Steam accordingly.
futurenurselady From: futurenurselady Date: July 24th, 2007 04:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Treat them like most New Englanders treat lobster.

Boil them in water, drain, then serve on a table covered with brown paper and Old Bay seasoning on the side.

At least, that's the way they're served in crab houses and the like.
komos From: komos Date: July 24th, 2007 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
But then what?
faux_eonix From: faux_eonix Date: July 24th, 2007 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

1 Small wooden hammer and a knife.
2. Three crabs per person.

You will do most of the eating with your hands. Remove the top shell with your hands.

I don't know how to tell which are good or which are bad to eat, so asking someone is important. I do know that you use your knife to scrape the inedible parts away from the rest of the meat.

Then, you take the hammer and crack the claw shell to get to the meat inside.

Oh, and apparently, the weight of the edible meat is equal to about 15 percent of the weight of the shell, so there is a lot of inedible stuff.
faux_eonix From: faux_eonix Date: July 24th, 2007 05:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is "The Great BBQ/Roller Derby Circuit" the official name of this trip?

Should we make a banner?
komos From: komos Date: July 24th, 2007 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's the best I could come up with on short notice.

I do think we should consider making a sign that says "N.E.R.D.s KICK POON!" or some such.
faux_eonix From: faux_eonix Date: July 24th, 2007 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
We could, but the N.E.R.D.'s aren't playing.
Or are we saying that New England teams kick poon?
komos From: komos Date: July 24th, 2007 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yep. Folks who'll be skating for the Riveters and the Massacre are the same who skate for the combined team...
From: aphorisic Date: July 24th, 2007 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
komos From: komos Date: July 24th, 2007 06:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's a what with a who now?

Can you re-send? I fear it may have gotten lost in a recent purge of eljay notifications.
From: aphorisic Date: July 24th, 2007 07:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
hmm, a lot of people have been saying that my gmails' going into their junk folder, for some reason. I'll resend when I get a sec.
From: couplingchaos Date: July 24th, 2007 08:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I only have experience with crab legs, so I'm not of much help.

On a related note, Mishak and I are having [small amts each of] crab legs, lobster, shrimp, and oysters for dinner tomorrow.
komos From: komos Date: July 24th, 2007 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been eating red king crab legs since I was wee, but even though I can distinctly remember fishing rock crab off a pier at Pemaquid Point (also when I was wee), I've never done the cook and eat thing with live critters.

There are times when I envy you. ^_^
mishak From: mishak Date: July 25th, 2007 11:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Take the crab, belly up, head facing away from you. On the belly is the “key”, this center exoskeletal plate on the belly. It’s hinged to the back of the crab; you take the end at the head, lift and pull it like a lever towards the back. Now you can separate the entire shell from the body of the crab, exposing the delicious backfin meat.

Hey look there’s video!

tarotchan From: tarotchan Date: July 25th, 2007 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Make sure to do the legs and claws first, and when you actually get into the proverbial belly of the beast don't eat the nasty rubbery things that look like creepy fingers. Gills are not good eats my friend.

Sadly I know what you mean. I'm living in Baltimore its summer time.. the place is LOUSY with crabs right now .. and I'm too afraid to go out and eat teh crabs.. well mebbe its not afraid so much as eating crabs.. its not a solitary experience.
komos From: komos Date: July 25th, 2007 11:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
That makes sense. Lobstah gills are notoriously inedible, and I've no intention of chewing on "devil's fingers" if I can help it.

I hear Maryland and Virginia have to ship crabs in to keep up with the demand...
komos From: komos Date: July 25th, 2007 11:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it'll come down to practice. Got to get a feel for it, even with access to a/v resources.
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