A Recipe From Crab Heaven
There's blue crab and snow crab and Peekytoe crab. There's land crab and sea crab. There's big crab (with a 10-foot claw span) and small crab (pea-size). There's American crab, European crab, Australian crab, and Asian crab. And they all have one thing in common - they're edible. Hooray!
The kind of crab you're familiar with probably depends on where you live. Maryland has blue crab, Florida has stone crab, and Alaska has king crab. If you're from San Francisco, you were probably weaned on Dungeness crab. Purists will tell you that the flavors are different for each. And the purists are, as they often can be, correct. For all practical crab-eating purposes, however, the subtle differences among species don't matter. Buy what's local, buy what's fresh, and buy what's affordable.
If you can't get crabmeat from a live crab, you can use respectable substitutes that are refrigerated, frozen, or, in a pinch, canned. The best alternative to whole crab is found in the refrigerator section of your market: fresh, nonpasteurized crabmeat. Choose lump meat, from the body of the crab, over claw meat. If you can't find that, go for the frozen variety. But if your only choices are pasteurized (which is also refrigerated) or canned, go ahead and use them; they'll do.
If you're buying in-the-crab crabmeat, make sure the crab is either still alive or cooked.
- Make a salad with crabmeat, diced sweet onions, black pepper, and a mayonnaise or yogurt dressing. Try making the salad with sun-dried tomatoes and scallions, red pepper and celery, or avocado and mustard.
- Substitute crab claws for the shrimp in shrimp cocktail.
- Try a variation on crab cakes by adding a little chopped chipotle pepper (just a little, though - these hot peppers are dangerous).
- Boil your crabs with crab boil, a mix of spices, usually including mustard seed, celery seed, oregano, pepper, and salt. Old Bay brand is available nationwide (Zatarain's is the brand for cajun-cuisine fanatics), or you can become a crab crank and make your own.
- Crab's mild flavor makes it work well in a cream-based soup such as bisque or chowder.
Try this creamy crab dip, made with fresh crab meat, cream cheese, sour cream, Ranch dressing mix, a bit of this and a bit of that!
8 ounces crab meat, preferably fresh
1 cup sour cream
6 ounces of softened cream cheese
1 chopped green onion
1 teaspoon paprika
1 half ounce envelope of Ranch Dressing mix
Tabasco hot sauce, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Beat the sour cream and cream cheese until well blended. Toss in the hot sauce, paprika, green onion, and dressing mix. Stir in the lovely crab meat. Chill for at least 4 hours. You'll agree that this is the crab recipe express from Nirvana! Yum yum yum!
One last crab note: surimi, the fake crabmeat, is nothing but fish (often pollock) processed to look like crab. There's nothing whatsoever wrong with it, but you won't mistake it for the real thing.