Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Makes Me Crabby Week: Boiled Crabs

The other day I was trying to figure out why I associate summer with crabs. I think it goes back to my vacations in Hilton Head Island. Starting in fourth grade, every summer we'd pack up the car hours before dawn. Thatbrother and I would be smushed into the back seat where we'd promptly go right back to sleep until our 7 AM stop for McDonalds breakfast. And fourteen hours later we'd end up at magical summer home, steps from the beach, with mini-golf, fireworks, and of course, low country boils.

Have you had a low country boil before? Heaven in a pot. A pot teaming with crab, sausage, corn, potatoes...and the crab is always the sweetest you've ever had.

Our summer crab was always so good, that several years we decided to catch our own. Every summer we would pick one deep sea adventure, regular ole deep sea fishing, shark fishing, shrimping, and even crabbing. If you've never been crabbing it's a complete "experience." For bait, you use chicken necks. So next time you buy a whole chicken, don't just throw that extra tidbit away. Keep it for the next time you get a crab hankering!

Between the low country boils and the memories of crabs hanging off of chicken necks, it makes a lot of sense that no summer for me is complete without lots and lots of crabs. And for the most part, I'm fairly adamant about starting with the live guys. Although Thatboy has made me promise not to race them across the kitchen floor. So I decided to dedicate this entire week to different crab preparations (from the Fannie Farmer cookbook, of course)

We'll begin with the basics - boiled crab. Especially helpful if you want to make a low country boil. The recipe for this is pretty much a given, you know - boil water, put in crabs, boil 15 instead I'll fill you in on how to eat these suckers.

How to Eat A Crab
  1. See those big claws in the front? Twist those puppies off and crack them with a crab cracker to make the meat easier to remove.
  2. Pull and break off the "apron" - that's the little triangular piece on the underside of the kind of looks like an upside-down version of the female reproductive system.
  3. Remove the gills, intestines, and all the other innards. If you want to keep the orange roe or the green tomalley - more power to you. Both are edible and Thatmom is a big fan. The rest of us, not so much. More for her!
  4. Dig out the meat beneath the gills and eat up!

And I got into barley for a bit, so I'll also share a barley recipe with you. It's a fabulous alternative to rice or pasta, but I was concerned with how Thatboy would react, so the first time I served it to him, I mixed it in with some white rice. The verdict? A big thumbs up!

Barley and Rice
  1. Bring 1.5 cups water to a boil with 1/2 tsp salt.
  2. Stir in 1/2 cup pearl barley and 1/4 cup white rice.
  3. Cover and simmer until water is absorbed (about 25 minutes)


  1. I spent every summer on Hilton Head Island as well. It will always hold a special place in my heart. My parents are actually coming back from there today!

  2. It is crab season here so bring them on!!!!!