Blue Crabs which are just referred to as crabs in Louisiana are very popular and used in almost any dish. They can be caught by almost anyone with a string and chicken necks. As a kid I can remember my Paw Paw bringing me to Lake Ponchatrain to catch some. When we caught enough we then went home and boiled them for the whole family to enjoy.
The great thing about them is that you can eat them boiled and use the leftover meat and shell for a variety of other dishes.
The shells can be used to stuff and the meat can be used for cakes, soup, bisque, dressing, and as a topping on a salad or steak.
They are eaten in New Orleans, by boiling them. We boil them in water and heavy cajun seasoning which is similar to boiling crawfish. Stores carry this as "Boil" or "Shrimp Boil" spice, which is added to the water, and they are immersed in the water. Again, they are done when they turn red.
When cooked they are cracked by hand, but most diners will use a small knife to pry the shell apart and cut the unwanted parts from the crab.
Male species have an apron on the underside. This is used as a tab, similar to a beverage can. The apron is pried up with the knife, pulled back and cut off. This then reveals an area in the rear of the crab where the knife can be inserted to pry the upper and lower shells apart. The upper shell is usually discarded. The gills known locally in Louisiana as "dead man" are removed and discarded. There is also the digestive system, considered a high delicacy by some crab eaters but usually removed. This is known as fat, it is a yellow or mustardy paste that gives the meat a great taste.
The meat is pulled out and eaten directly. Shells can be very sharp and because the interior comprises a series of compartments separated by a somewhat pliable but still sharp shell, getting the meat out is also a lot of work for the relatively small amount of edible meat.
The picked meat, especially the large chunks from the backfin area, can also be used to make cakes, soup, dip, or other dishes. Larger pieces of meat are preferred by customers, but since they fall apart easily, a cook has to carefully fold in meat, rather than stir it. Traditionally cakes were fried, but many people today prefer broiled (grilled).
Great info on Louisiana crabs.
Those caught just after molting (before the new shell has had time to harden) are prepared as soft shell. Soft shell species are prepared by first cutting out the gills, face, and guts. It is then battered in flour, egg, and seasoning, then fried in oil until crispy. The result can be served as an entrée, or in a sandwich. When served between bread slices or crackers, the legs stick out on either side, and the entire softshell is consumed, legs and all.
24 live blue crabs
two 3-ounce packets Zatarain's boil
1 tablespoon cayenne
1/2 cup table salt
3 lemons, quartered
2 onions, halved
1 1/2 pounds small potatoes
2 heads of garlic (not separated into cloves)
6 ears of corn, shucked
2 tablespoons Slap Ya Mama Boil Seasoning, for sprinkling over boiled seafood
2 pounds large shrimp (about 30, preferably with heads)
In a 7- to 8-gallon kettle bring 5 gallons water to a boil.
While water is coming to a boil, in a deep sink rinse them in 2 or 3 changes of water.
Add Zatarain's boil, cayenne, salt, lemons, and onions to boiling water and boil 5 minutes. Add potatoes and garlic and boil until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer potatoes and garlic with a large sieve to a large platter and keep warm, covered with foil. Add corn to boiling water and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer corn with tongs to platter and keep warm, covered with foil.
Return water to a boil. Transfer all crabs to pot. Return water to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes. (To determine doneness, remove a claw and crack it with the handle of a dinner knife. Use Knife to extract meat from claw.) Transfer them with sieve to another large platter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Slap Ya Mama seasoning.
Return water to boil and cook shrimp until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp with sieve to large platter with crabs and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon Slap Ya Mama seasoning.
Boiled Seafood-A family tradition
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