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Tag: "louisiana blue crabs"

All About Blue Crabs

[ 0 ] November 4, 2008

All About Blue Crabs

Louisiana may be known for its blue crabs, but did you know that they’re not all blue? The crabs get their name because of their bluish color, but some of these shelled creatures can also be gray or turquoise. Yet despite the color, the crab is a favorite with Louisianans everywhere!

blue crab

Blue Crab

A blue crab is found in both salt and fresh water in all almost all parts of the world. Here they are typically found in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. Because they are bottom-dweller, a young crab is prey to many animal species. Birds, sharks, eels, catfish, sea turtles and even their own kind will hunt them.

But animals are not the only prey they must look out for. Fishermen harvest the crab for commercial use. Trotlines or crab pots are used to trap the crab during the warm months when they are more active. Sometimes a dredge is used during the winter months when they are not so open to the cold waters.

Once a crab is harvested, workers must separate male from female. The easiest way a fisherman will distinguish a male crab from a female crab is by looking for a “T” shaped apron and blue-tipped claws. A young female crab will have red-tipped claws and a triangular shaped apron that forms a “U” as an adult.

When an adult female becomes pregnant she will carry her eggs under her abdomen until they are released into the water, which takes about two weeks.

Once the eggs hatch, the crab grows to its adult size in about a year and a half.

During their growth, a crab will shed its shell many times. During this process, the new shell will be soft which at this time are often harvested for their delectability.

Those that are left to harden are no strangers to a Louisiana table either. A hard-shell crab is one of the most common delicacies of Louisianans.

What Cajuns Do with Blue Crabs

The hard-shell crab is often boiled and served whole in the shell. Louisianans then crack the shells and enjoy the meat inside. Much of the meat is found in the claws for hard-shell lovers, but the entire crab maybe eaten when cooked as a soft-shell.

Boiling a blue crab isn’t the only way to prepare it. A crab may be fried, steamed and even baked, there are hundreds of Cajun recipes for blue crabs. But many Louisiana chefs will agree that the best way to cook a crab is by boiling or steaming it.

But no matter how a crab is prepared, one thing is for sure, it’s all good!

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How to Boil and Eat Louisiana Blue Crabs

How to Boil and Eat Louisiana Blue Crabs

[ 22 ] October 15, 2008

Cooking Louisiana Blue Crabs

Louisiana Blue Crabs are available in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The word for Blue Crab in the Greek means beautiful swimmer and savory. Louisiana Blue Crabs are also known for a sweet and hearty texture. I personally love the claw meat of Blue Crabs, but the lump white crab meat is certainly the best.

blue crab

Blue Crab

On this sunny day in August, we visited the Folse & Company Seafood Market in Gonzales, Louisiana. It had been about 20 years since I actually boiled my own crabs. Usually, it is so easy to get boiled crabs at local restaurants.

We recommend about 2-4 crabs per person depending on the size. Of course, we only buy the best grade #1 crabs, so they are rather large and full of incredible meat.

 Getting Started with Your Louisiana Blue Crabs

Buy fresh local live crabs.  Once home place the crabs in a large basin or bucket and cover with ice.  The ice stuns the crabs and miraculously keeps the claws from falling off during the boiling process.  Soak for 30 minutes.

Prepare a large stock pot with boiling water.

Zatarains Crab Boil

Zatarains Liquid Crab Boil

Add seasonings:
2 large sweet onions, quartered
Several whole garlic pods, cut in half
3-4 Bay leaves
2-4 tablespoons Zatarain’s Liquid Shrimp & Crab Boil (I use about 4 ounces – Mike)
2 tablespoons white vinegar (helps crabs peel easily)
lemon or lime juice.

Carefully place the crabs in the boiling water.  Boil about 15 minutes.  The crabs instantly turn a vibrant red once placed in the boiling water.  Turn off the heat.

Remove the crabs and serve.

If you want to let the crabs soak in the water in order to soak up the wonderful seasonings, place cold water or more ice on top of the crabs in order to stop the cooking process.

Eating Louisiana Blue Crabs

You can do this in any order you like, but this is just how I was taught to eat crabs as a little girl at the age of 8.  There would be about 10 family members sitting all around this large dining table in the dining room of my Aunt Linda’s house in New Orleans.  Newspapers were spread the entire length of the table and each person had a plate and a little bowl for dipping with either butter or ketchup.  What a wonderful memory.

How to Eat Louisiana Blue Crabs

Take the crab in one (be careful of the hard prickles on the shell). Carefully pull the legs out right at the join closet to the body. Some good meat will come out. Don’t be shy to pull the meat through your teeth and suck out the juice.

Next, turn the crab over and pull open the crabs private part. Grasp the bottom of the body in one hand and the top shell in the other and pull apart. Discard the top shell. Then, pull the lungs and other yucky guts items off. You should be left with 2 compartment separated by much thinner shell membranes.

Using a sharp knife carefully cut the compartment in half. Then, make a cut lengthwise on each compartment to reveal the sweet, savory white meat. Pull out the lump crab meat and work your way through the other smaller membranes.

Now for the legs – break apart the legs at each joint. Sometimes the meat will come right out. Other times you need to use crab crackers or nut crackers to open up the segments.

My favorite part is the claw. I always save it for last. Delicately crack right in the middle and once at the place where the claws start. You should be able to peel the shell off and reveal a big, full claw. Take the claw into your mouth and pull between your teeth. Now that’s some good stuff Cher!

P.S.: My first and last time that I cooked live crabs, I was 23 years old and still wet behind the ears when it came to cooking. We lived on a small island in northeast Florida – Amelia Island. A local seafood market had a sign for “Dozen Crabs – $12.00”. I thought, “Wow, I love crabs and I can figure out how to cook them.” So, I bought a dozen crabs. I didn’t realize that they were LIVE. I thought crabs were like fish and already dead.

Needless to say, to my surprise these things were all rustling about in the paper bag. I get them home and I no idea what to do with them. So, I call my mom back in Louisiana. She tells me to pour them in the sink and soak them in salt water. I thought that was just for crawfish, but I attempted it anyway. I took the bag and dumped them in the sink. Oh my gosh, they were rustling about and trying take off running on the counter.

One fell on the floor. I was hopping around like firecrackers were going off. My golden retriever was having a good time playing with one.

Well, I managed to boil and season some water and one by one placed the poor innocent crabs into the boiling hot cauldron and saying sorry to each of them. My Cajun cooking beginnings, lol.

They must have been good for I remember this crazy story. C’est la vie!

Beryl Stokes

Beryl Stokes