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Cooking crab.


stephenc
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It's almost crab season. I primarily eat Maryland Blue crabs, not Dungeness cause we can't get 'em here in Philly.

One question. Do you kill the crab by spearing it before cooking? Or do you dump them right in the pot and boil/steam them alive? I heard somewhere that they come out tasting better if you kill them first, and they are also less likely to lose their claws.

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I don't know of anyone who cooks Blue crabs here that kills them first. Cook em live. Also the first time I've heard about the claw thing. Maybe somebody on the Louisiana board can weigh in too (ie Mayhaw Man, et al), they eat alot blue crabs down their way (in fact most of the blue we are seeing are from the gulf; the MD crabs are probably just coming out of the mud now).

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CRABS BOILED ALIVE-film at 11 :laugh:

I am with FFOR. I have never seen anyone do anything BUT cook them alive. Dead crabs deteriorate quickly for one thing (dead crabs are only surpassed by shrimp in their ability to stink up the place), and for the other if they are not alive how do you know that they are fresh.

Come to think of it, I would have to consut a biologist on how to kill one (short of gassing it with co2, which would work but seems kind of pointless.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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When I make a pasta sauce with blue crabs I kill them by pulling off the top shell, clean them then stuff them with herbed bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. I replace the shell and tie some twine around the crab to keep it together. They then simmer for a couple of hours in tomatos sauce (with sweated onion) over low heat. This is sublime and my favorite dish in the whole world. :wub:

Softshells are usually "cleaned" then cooked.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I've always been told to never eat the dead ones. My mom regularly stands over a pot with a big spoon to knock the runaways back in.

My mom does the same thing. I think you can get sick from eating the dead ones, especially when you don't know how long it has been dead. But this is just for steaming.

In my family we joke that the ones who fight to stay alive taste better :smile:

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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If you're squeamish about throwing a live one in the pot, put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes first (well, that's 20 min for a dungie. maybe a shorter time period for a blue crab?). This slows them down, so when you put them in the pot, they don't fight.

Personally, I just toss 'em in live. My fishmonger rolls them neatly in newspaper, so I break the seal on that and unroll him into the sink, onto his back. Grab him from the back, so he can't claw you, and pop him into the boiling, well salted water.

And no, never eat one that was dead before you cooked it, just like clams, oysters and mussels.

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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Cook em alive!

Reminds me of a funny crab story. I had this pimply-faced prep kid who would think nothing of getting all liquored up and smashing someone's head through a plate glass window or punching them in the face. I bought live Jonah crabs to make a nage and I was wacking them in half with a cleaver when said prep guy ran out of the kitchen, shreaking, and never came back!

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Yeah, some tough preppy he was huh?

I remember a story told once about a chef who had deligated the job of parboiling and shocking cold about 100 live crab to his sous chef and that he would return shortly to help with the cleaning process. Well said chef comes back an hour later and finds his sous(who is a devout buddhist) saying a blessing over each crab before sending them into the simmering court boullion . The chef then in the order of haste had his sous do a mass blessing and finished the task.

As stated , live is fresh and best.......

The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity!

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:rolleyes:

For many years when we went to the Washington coast crabbing we would cook them alive whole. After being shown how to cook them cleaned I have never gone back.

You flip them on there back, and with a large chief knife stab down into the mouth area. Than just come on down with the knife sliceing them inhalf, clean and put in boiling water. We find the meat is whiter and fresher tasteing.

Which makes sense, you are not cooking something in its own guts. We felt that this yellowed the meat.

Charlie

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The issue is not necessarily whether or not to cook a live vs. dead crab. Just don't buy dead crabs since you don't necessarily know how long they have been dead, therefore you don't know how fresh they are.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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wasn't there a thread recently on one of the forums about frozen, dead crab being okay? the huge korean store we go to near us (boulder, colorado--the store itself is in aurora) often has this in their frozen section, along with many other goodies like frozen mackerel, pomfret, black-cod, skate etc. i've always been too chicken to buy any though.

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wasn't there a thread recently on one of the forums about frozen, dead crab being okay?

Yes, crabs can be frozen whole after cleaning, although you rarely see then that way along the Gulf of Mexico. It is quite common, however, to see them quartered and sold in bags as "gumbo crabs". They work out nicely for soups and stocks.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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:rolleyes:

For many years when we went to the Washington coast crabbing we would cook them alive whole. After being shown how to cook them cleaned I have never gone back.

You flip them on there back, and with a large chief knife stab down into the mouth area. Than just come on down with the knife sliceing them inhalf, clean and put in boiling water. We find the meat is whiter and fresher tasteing.

Which makes sense, you are not cooking something in its own guts. We felt that this yellowed the meat.

Charlie

Oh no! If you do this, then don't you wash out all the yummy orange roe and green goo? :shock:

I say cook 'em live! Except for soft shells, I think the cleaning process kills them.

Although now that I've typed it, it sounds a bit evil...

morda

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Considering crabs are just about as mentally evolved as land-based arthropods, my $.02 go into the chuck 'em in boiling water. They're small and will be quickly dispatched that way.

This page has an interesting bit of diagramation of various invertebrates' central nervous systems.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Here in Australia it is actually against the law to cook crabs/lobsters/yabbies, etc. while they are awake and alert. You have to freeze them first or you can face animal cruelty charges...

I guess they only enforce this in restaurants? Or do the police burst into your kitchen as you throw the live and kickin' crabs into the steamer?

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I guess they only enforce this in restaurants? Or do the police burst into your kitchen as you throw the live and kickin' crabs into the steamer?

They actually have a special branch of the Australian equivalent of the FDA devoted to live animal boiling related issues...

Just kidding. I have no idea how they enforce it, I've never heard of anyone getting in trouble for it yet.

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I usually buy them live and kill and quarter them before cooking chilli crab.. yum.

To kill them, I freeze them for a couple of hours. Then lift up the triangular flap, and pull the top shell off. Then cut in half. Clean then quarter. THis is how we were shown us how to it at the Sydney Seafood school a couple of years ago.

Northern Territories Fisheries PDF doc

'You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.'

- Frank Zappa

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Here in Australia it is actually against the law to cook crabs/lobsters/yabbies, etc. while they are awake and alert. You have to freeze them first or you can face animal cruelty charges...

So..... freezing to death is humane and boiling to death is not? That's worth a chuckle! I suppose, given my options, I'd choose freezing but I still find the whol thing humorous.

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Here in Australia it is actually against the law to cook crabs/lobsters/yabbies, etc. while they are awake and alert. You have to freeze them first or you can face animal cruelty charges...

By the way, what's a yabbie?

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Cruelty? Feh. They die instantly.

As for throwing them in alive - OK, call me a bloodthirsty sadist, but I enjoy it. Crabs are not nice animals. Give 'em a chance, they'll nip off your toe as soon as look at you (not to mention that they're cannibals and happily devour their own kind). Self-defense? Yeah, I guess so, but I swear there's a mean glint to them as they chase after you. And yes, when they run it isn't always away! So I get a wicked charge out of giving them their comeuppance. I don't generally pick them up by hand, because though it is perfectly safe to do so from the back with one crab, that doesn't protect you from the other two dozen at battle stations in the bucket. So I use a long grabner (tongs to you non-Grossman folk). I try to do 'em one at a time, but sometimes they're clutching into each other too firmly for that, and you get a whole chain of three or four going from bucket to pot at once.

As for losing their claws - they do that easily enough while they're alive. Occupational hazard of jousting with each other in the bucket.

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Here in Australia it is actually against the law to cook crabs/lobsters/yabbies, etc. while they are awake and alert. You have to freeze them first or you can face animal cruelty charges...

So..... freezing to death is humane and boiling to death is not? That's worth a chuckle! I suppose, given my options, I'd choose freezing but I still find the whol thing humorous.

Owen, without knowing more of the actual physiology, at least the theory behind it has some basis - ostensibly, as cold blooded animals, their systems shut down with the cold, they essentially go to sleep, unlike us, where it hurts like hell on the way down. Sentience goes out the door, and they can thereby be killed humanely. So goes the theory.

I don't see a distinction between any animal I kill and eat - all should be respected and, if I am going to eat them, I try to kill them as painlessly as possible.

Paul

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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