One of the greatest things about the San Francisco Bay Area is the fishing and crabbing right at our fingertips! The bummer is, the Blue Crabs (and even the Dungeness) we can catch are kind of, well, stinky. The water isn’t all that clean. My little brother and I used to go crabbing and fishing a lot, but my mother refused to let us even experiment with cooking the crabs or fish that we caught using our kitchen — that’s how smelly they are. And for a Japanese, foods with strong, unnatural stenches are forbidden to be consumed.
My favorite ex-boyfriend just moved back to the Bay Area from L.A. and he recently discovered crabbing and has been sharing his catches. So cute. The crab and fish he catches are insane! I don’t remember ever catching fish / crab that size when I used to go. Tip: he uses mackerel and salmon bone as bait.
Since my ex cooks a lot, I shared David Chang’s Blue Crab Boil recipe, a recipe I discovered rids the unfortunate odor of the stinky Bay Area crabs.
David Chang’s Blue Crab Boil
- 1/4 bushel (about 15 to 20) large blue crabs
- 1 tin Old Bay
- 4 12-ounce cans of American lager (like Budweiser or something)
- Place a large pot that is taller than it is wide over high heat. Add the beer along with a handful of Old Bay. Cover.
- Once the beer’s a-boilin’, toss in half your crabs and sprinkle another generous handful of Old Bay over them. Add the rest of the crabs and hit it with more OB. If it seems like this recipe is using a lot of Old Bay, that’s because it is. Try your best to stir everything using a spider strainer or tongs, then cover the pot and let the crabs cook.
- After about 4 minutes of cooking, toss the crabs with your large spider strainer (or tongs) to ensure that they cook evenly. Cook for a total of 8 to 10 minutes, or until the shells have turned completely red.
- Transfer the crabs to a flat surface lined with newspaper and spread them out for the last dousing of Old Bay. While the crabs are hot, sprinkle them from high up with the remaining seasoning to evenly coat them.
- First thing you want to do is free up the carapace from the body. This is accomplished by flipping the crab onto its back and pulling off the apron (a tab that looks like a phallus on a male and a dome on a female).
- Next, separate the shell from the body by pulling the two apart at the point where the apron was connected. Carefully inspect crevasses for shallow pools of glorious crab fat and dunk your face in accordingly.
- Next, remove all the gills (they look like grayish, triangular flaps) with your fingers and discard. Locate the mouth of the crab and break it off; discard that, too. If your crab is female and you spot a bright orange sac, consume it immediately.
- Split the crab down the center so you have half the legs on each side. Break each half in half again, leaving two or three legs on each side, separating the back-fin section from the claw section.
- Start peeling back the shell around the back fin section. This is where you’ll find the lump meat. If you peel carefully enough, you’ll end up with a big chunk of it. Use the legs as a handle and extract the meat by sucking it away from the shell.
- You’ll have to work a little harder on the front claw section, but if you have large crabs you’ll find a gold mine inside. Do not use a mallet to crack the crab shell—you’ll end up shattering little pieces of shell into the meat. Instead, cleanly separate the claw at the joint and get a small, sharp knife. Make a shallow cut into the shell, gently twisting your knife to split it. Wriggle the meat out and you’ll be left with a large piece of solid crab.
Old Bay seasoning — in case you’ve never tried it — is a wonderful spice. I never had it, until I lived in Washington D.C. In the Maryland / Baltimore area of America, there are Maryland crabs and it’s a staple of crabs in that region. The spice is: Celery Salt, bay leaves, fresh ground pepper, paprika, dried mustard, a pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Really delicious stuff. Native D.C., Virginians and Marylanders douse their crabs with this stuff, even sprinkle it on fries.
Recipe via Lucky Peach — I’m not even going to pretend it’s adapted because it so isn’t. Hopefully this doesn’t count as plagiarizing. Thanks, Lucky Peach and Chef Chang!
PS: my ex will kill me for posting that not so flattering photo of him up on top. So I will include some better ones of him 😉