Monday, August 24, 2009

Cooking Rock Crab

My dad is a crab cooking expert, claiming that the best way to cook crab is in clean sea water. I will agree with that - just make sure to clean out the stray floating piece of sea kelp! (Salted water can be substituted, just not quite the same flavor)

1. very large deep pot for boiling
2. clean seawater
3. long tongs to drop in the crabs
4. a little bravery!

Fill pot with the sea water and place on the stove to boil. Be aware, due to the amount of water in the pot and the salt, it may take a while for the water to come to a boil.

There are two theories about preparing the crab for cooking; the crab can be cracked in half and cleaned before placing in the pot, or the entire crab can be placed into the pot and then cleaned after it's cooked. Either way will work, it's all in your preference for mess. I prefer cooking the whole crab first.

Carefully place the crabs in the pot using your tongs. I like really really long ones to avoid getting pinched - my dad is much braver than me! After filling the pot with the crabs, place the lid on and turn the heat down, but still boiling. Timer should be set for 20 minutes. When the crabs are done, run continuous cool water on them until they cool down.

Cleaning can be a very messy affair! We usually spread old newspaper on the outside
picnic table, it seems to be the easiest way to make clean-up a breeze. Alex and I have determined that effective crab cracking is all in the tools; GOOD crab crackers, and maybe a small hammer as Rock Crab are just a little harder than a dungeness to break open.

1. Remove the back first, holding the base of the crab and pulling the shell away from the body
2. Remove the triangular-shaped section on the flip-side of the crab and lift away. Should be then easy to gently remove the gills on either side, and wash away the "crab butter" (kind of gross yellow stuff..). Some crab connoisseurs consider this a delicacy, not me.
3. Break off the legs and the front claws
4. Gently wash the remaining body under cool fresh water
5. Dig in! Use your fingers, crab picks, crab-crackers or whatever you find to break out the crab meat - YUM! Wonderful to dip in melted butter with garlic and lemon, or simply eat right out of the shell.

Here's one of our favorite E-Z appetizers to make! So easy, can be whipped together in about 5 minutes - one of my favorites after fun crabbing afternoons in the San Juan Islands.

8 oz. softened cream cheese
cocktail sauce
cooked, cracked crab

Spread softened cream cheese on a decorative plate, then layer with cocktail sauce and crab. Serve with your favorite crackers. Guaranteed to be the hit of your next party!

Here's the kid, Alex, relaxing after a hard morning hunting crab and cleaning....

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