crab cooking?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by Guest, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    ok so i live on the Oregon coast and i have been talking to friends about putting together a crab cookout. i have seen people in Maine do it w/ lobsters and i am interested in it. the crabs would be Dungeness and i already have all the equipment needed. i have a 20 gallon metal drum that is clean enough to eat out of. and i can get the crabs. i am going to use ocean water to cook it in. now, my question becomes what would go good w/ the crabs in the drum? i was thinking some corn, maybe some potatoes (boil them for only a while then wrap them up in foil and throw them next to the fire so they don't become mush in the water), onions...and i cant think of anything else. i will probably make a pan of corn bread but i was wondering if anybody here had any ideas as to what i should throw in there. and if anybody has done something like this before than any tips would be nice. thanks in advance.
     
  2. kgraf88

    kgraf88

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    I used to work at a Joe's Crab Shack, not too many throughout the nation, but you can probably guess what our specialty was.

    A lot of people liked to order hushpuppies on the side of their crab buckets. We also threw in a sausage link.

    A popular appetizer was shrimp cocktail, of course. And lastly, not sure if it will work as well with the ocean water, but people often enjoyed soaking up the juices at the bottom of the bucket with garlic bread.

    You are spot on with the corn and potatoes, but don't forget the Old Bay!
     
  3. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    A New England Clam Bake would include lobsters, corn, potatoes, sausages, and, of course, clams. The cooking technique, however, is steaming. Essentially, you build a fire, burn it down to coals. The coals are covered with wet seaweed, then the food is piled on, a second layer of seaweed covers the food, and the whole think covered with canvas. Sometimes the whole mass is covered with sand as well.

    A crab boil, while similar, isn't quite the same thing. So I wouldn't be looking to model it on something that happens in Maine. It's also a misnomer, because little liquid is actually used, and the contents are also steamed rather than actually boiled.

    The main difference is that a crab boil is done in a pot, using heavily flavored liquid. Indeed, there are crab boil flavorings available in any grocery, in both liquid and powder form.

    Why seawater? Other liquids not only add flavor, they can be used as the base of a sauce. For instance, let's say you use beer as the liquid and Old Bay as they over-riding flavor base. You can use that, mixed with melted butter, as a great dipping sauce for just about everything that comes out of the pot.

    That said, I would definately add some sausage to your crab boil; any good smoked sausage will work, but, personally, I'd go with chorizo.

    I don't know how clams would combine with dungenese. Seems to me that combining crab with shellfish might be a bit over the top. But if you think they'd work together, toss in a mess of steamers. Or perhaps mussels?
     
  4. Guest

    Guest Guest

    cool thanks. whats old bay? ive heard of it before but i have never found it, from what ive gathered its a seafood seasoning. do either of you know of a recipe thats similar to it? and yea kyheirloomer i think your right about the water. for the chorizo are you talking cooked or uncooked? do you want the chorizo to break up into the broth or to keep it whole?  and for the liquid what brew of beer would be best do you think? as for the clams,im not doing shellfish but that is a good idea. what kind of potatoes do you think would be the best? im thinkingd gold.

    and kgraf88 thanks for the idea about hush puppies i think that would be much better than corn bread thanks. and do you think French bread would work instead of garlic bread?
     
  5. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Old Bay is, indeed, a seafood seasoning. Developed in Baltimore, many years ago, it is now owned by McCormick. Ingredients are: celery salt, spices (including mustard, red pepper, black pepper, bay leaves, cloves, allspice, ginger, mace, cardamom, cinnamon) and paprika.

    I'm sure it's available where you are. I've never been anywhere in the U.S. where supermarkets didn't carry it. It comes in cans, rather than glass jars, so may not be exactly with the other spices.

    Chorizo comes in Mexican (raw) and Spanish (dry) versions. I use the Spanish, and add it in thick slices. But you can use whole links if you wish. If you can get it there, anduille might make a good substitute. Or any smoked sausage will do.

    One thing to keep in mind is that a crab boil is not a long-term cooking thing. Once the liquid is steaming you're talking what? 20, 25 minutes for the crab to be cooked. Half an hour at most. So nothing is going to turn mushy. By the same token, I don't think Mexican chorizo would be in the pot long enough to cook through.

    For the spuds I prefer either small Yukon Gold or red new potatoes.

    Type of beer? I reckon you're overthinking this. Crab boil is a rustic, fun meal. Most of the time they're made in a basket of some kind, and, when everything is cooked, the basket is lifted from the pot and unceremoniously poured out onto a newspaper-covered table. So use whatever beer you are drinking. What's that you say? You're a wine drinker? Then use that. Again, whatever wine is going in your glass. On the East Coast, so-called boiled crabs are often made with nothing but water, a little vinegar, and Old Bay.

    If you're going to serve the cooking liquid as a broth-like sauce, I would go with any good sopping bread. French bread is fine for that.

    Nothing wrong with hush puppies. But, if you're doing all the cooking, do you want to be minding a deep fryer at the same time you're monitoring the crab?
     
  6. mikelm

    mikelm

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    A good number of crushed garlic gloves would be an excellent addition. Several bay leaves wouldn't hurt, either. You want to boil the water/broth at least a few minutes to get the seasonings well-infused before you drop the crabs.

    A different approqch is to make a slurry of room-temp butter and large amounts of garlic, then boil the crabs until they're about half cooked. Let them cool enough to handle, then break them up and thoroughly crack all the shells. Then massage the garlic-butter slurry through the cracked shells and finish on your grill. Mesquite smoke is good with this, though I'm sure alder would do fine.

    Maill me a couple. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/licklips.gif

    Mike

    I bring you these suggestions based on four year's  living on Puget Sound next to Seattle.
     
  7. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    An interesting suggestion, Mike, as crab is the one thing I never use garlic with.

    I once, on a similar thread (it was about crab cakes, IIRC), did some major research. After looking at numerous seafood cookbooks and conducting an on-line search, it turns out I'm not all that unusual. I came across---are you ready----zero, nada, zip, no recipes that combined blue crab with garlic, and only one or two that used garlic with Dungenese. (I'll refrain from pointing out that Dungeness needs the extra kick).

    Anyone who knows me will tell you I'm a garlic freak, so it isn't bias against the stinking rose. Rather, it's a combination that, for some reason, just doesn't work well.
     
  8. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Although OLD BAY IS BETTER if you can find one marked seafood seasoning or Crab Boil that will suffice. DO NOT use seawater it is to salty  and murky. Garlic Crabs are also big here in Florida.
     
  9. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Hi Chris, are you doing a boil or a Bake ?????????????? If your doing a bake, I would take the crabs red potatoes, corn, sausage, small salmon, and make it more of a  PNW Bake, get some crusty sour dough bread..I'm on the other side of the mountain. Old bay seasoning sprinkled over the top and steam/ bake on the beach with lots of Wine & beer and Chic's...........ChefBillyB
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2010
  10. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    I don't know about as far north as Oregon, but for most of the west coast, "chorizo" is Mexican style and not Spanish.  Spanish chorizo is dried and something like pepperoni or Portuguese style linguica.  Mexican style is fresh, very fatty, and very loose.  You don't want Mexican chorizo in a boil -- much as I love it.  There are a great number of other sausage possibilities though and you should definitely take advantage of a few. 

    You should be able to find Old Bay in just about any supermarket and certainly any fish monger's worth its salt.  What you're really looking for, if you want to stay regional, is "crab boil."  Oregon Seafood sells a good one. 

    Not to bag on anyone else's choices, but I never like to use salmon as an "and."  It's too distinctive.  If you don't want it take over the party, don't invite it.

    As proteins, I think clams and/or mussels, shrimp and chicken pieces would all go well.  If you want a fish, go with halibut or something else mild. 

    For vegetables -- corn of course.  Potatoes, always.  No cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale, broccoli, cauliflower or anything else from the cabbage family.  

    You want to get a fumet going before you add the proteins and corn.  Kelp (gotta have kelp!), onions, carrots, celery garlic, maybe some cut up tomatoes, a few handfuls of parsley, a few bay leafs, some whole peppercorns... you get the picture.  About 1/4 cup of table salt per gallon of fresh water.  No more than 2 tbs of salt per gallon of clean, sea water.  The crab boil.  Add a healthy amount of either beer or white wine as part of the water.  Cook it till it tastes like something (30 minutes anyway before adding the protein. 

    You want the pot at a simmer, not a boil.  Add the sausage first so it can contribute to the pot.  Give it ten minutes then add the chicken and potatoes.  Another fifteen, and add the cleaned crab.  Five more and the corn (and chunks of fish if you're using fish).  Another five, and add the shrimp and clams and/or mussels.  Turn off the heat, let it steep, and in exactly eight minutes and 12 seconds -- give or take -- the clam and/or mussel shells will open, the shrimp will be cooked to pink perfection, and unless your friends are like mine there should still be cold, refreshing beverages.

    Hammers for pounding the crab. 

    Yes to sourdough bread.  Don't bother cutting it. 

    Caesar salad.  Use my recipe.  Accept no substitutes.  Forsake all others.

    Aioli (aka "mayo") flavored with smoked paprika or chipotle, a tomatillo salsa, and drawn butter (lots of butter) for dippers.

    Melon.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2010
  11. mikelm

    mikelm

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    "crab is the one thing I never use garlic with."

    Kyh... is this a personal preference - not to be argued with - or a simple case of ignorance?  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/redface.gif

    I think garlic goes very well with crab (Dungeness, at least.)  I grew up in Maryland and lived three years in Norfolk, so I am not unacquainted with the beautiful swimmer , but I've decided that you could sit down to a bushel of them and starve to death before you could get to the meat. This was after I met the Dungeness.

    My recipe, of course, applied to the Dungeness. It would take forever to apply to blue crabs.

    At Jake's restaurant in Portland, OR, they serve a crockery pot of barbecued crab legs (Dungeness, natural) with the big,meaty leg meat pieces simmered in a gorgeous BBQ broth.  The first time I was there, they handed me a fairly large loaf of house-made bread, and I said "I could never eat that much bread!" After dipping a piece in the broth, I found out that I could, indeed, eat that much bread. If you're ever in Portland, go to Jake's and  ask if they still do the BBQ crab legs.

    Mike
     
  12. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    is this a personal preference - not to be argued with - or a simple case of ignorance? 

    Well Mike, of course it's a personal preference. But it's one shared by thousands of others, as evidenced by the paucity of crab preparations using garlic.

    I can see why it would go better with Dungenese, though. The only thing noteworthy about Dungenese is its size. Its so-called flavor is so delecate as to be nonexistent. The better flavor of Blues is well worth the effort, IMO.

    An interesting irony. Last time I was out that way you couldn't pay somebody to eat a Red crab. It was Dungenese or nothing. I couldn't understand that, and found them to be almost as flavorsome as Blues. But I couldn't convince anyone.

    Now I notice from travel shows that the reds (under a broader name, Red Something Or Other) have gained popularity, and people all over the PNW are eating them with relish.
     
  13. mikelm

    mikelm

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    Well, KYH, I lived on Puget Sound from 1967 to '71 and I never heard of Red whatever crabs.

    I just hope it's not becoming popular because they're running out of Dungeness. These are about the same price as lobster here in the benighted Midwest. I fondly remember buying them live in Oakland's Chinatown for around $3.25 a pound.  We ate a lot of Dungeness when we visited our daughter when she lived in Walnut Creek. She's now in Pittsburgh, where they're harder to find.  Costco has them - precooked - for around $6/lb. I don't like precooked, and have had to take a couple back to our Costco here because they were well past their expiration date.

    I have never had a complaint about their flavor. But the garlic doesn't hurt, either.  As with most dishes!

    Maybe the crabs are little washed out by the time they have walked to Kentucky.

    Mike
     
  14. mikelm

    mikelm

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    sorry for the double post
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
  15. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Gotta go with Mike on this one. 

    Also, I'm not aware of any paucity of crab with garlic recipes.  Asian and Hispanic cuisines abound with them.  They don't call it jaiva de mojo de ajo because it just hints at the stinking lily.

    BDL
     
  16. bobbleheadbob

    bobbleheadbob

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    I lived in Freeport on Long Island, New York for some years and crab boils were all but an every day event during the crab season.

    I would say no to ocean water, use sea salt and tap water for safety reasons, depending where you live some bay water can be way too salty. Many towns street drains run into the bay and dog feces and who know what else can get into the water.

    As far an ingredients, you can use lots of things just remember to put the slow cooking stuff like potatoes and corn in first and fast cookers in last, like crab and shrimp.

    Bobbleheadbob
     
  17. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    Garlic with crab: one of the most beloved approaches to crab, among Chinese gourmets (who have for some 1000 years gotten very wound up about crabs --- there are lengthy odes and essays about the things), is to steam them plain and then serve with a dipping sauce made of Zhejiang vinegar, a little dark soy sauce, and lots of minced raw garlic. You make up this mixture in a fair-sized bowl, then let it stand while you heat the steamer and steam the crabs, and then divide the sauce among the diners; that way the flavors mix but you don't lose the freshness. This method only works if the crab is not only very fresh but also very good quality, as it tends to accent a lot of complexities in the natural flavors, and if the crab isn't pretty terrific by itself you will notice this immediately --- at best, the sauce will overpower, and more likely you will also start to identify undesirable tastes.

    Many Chinese gourmets insist on having two dipping bowls, too. You scrape all the "mustard" into one, and pour a little of the sauce over it, then whisk this up with the tips of your chopsticks. That way you have two complementary dips, one extremely rich and the other completely lean.

    Unfortunately, it is very difficult to produce this classic and delicious presentation in many parts of the US, because the Zhejiang vinegar we get normally varies between mediocre and awful, and the soy isn't all that much better. Zhejiang vinegar, I am informed, is traditionally fermented in such a way that it is not entirely stable, so in order to bottle and ship it internationally you have to process it, and that kills a certain subtle dimension which is supposed to be the emblematic flavor of this vinegar.
     
  18. sweetcakes23

    sweetcakes23

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    I live in Pac. NW (Tacoma Area) and we just did a big Shrimp boil for our Labor Day campout. It was a huge success and all I did was use our huge crabpot, Brought water to a boil, added Louisiana Boil spices (similar to "Old Bay Seasoning," or,  Crab or Shrimp boil spices that can be purchased in most local stores), and add "in layers according to their cooking time.  My recipe consisted of:  Spices,  One whole onion (peeled, cut into wedges),  Whole Tiny red potatoes,  Corn on cob (cut into 2 inch pieces),  Smoked sausage Rings (Hillshire Farms, cut in 2 inch pieces),  and add Shrimp last.  Turn off heat and let sit for 10 mins.  Drain, and dump entire pot onto table (lined with clean plastic, or traditional way using newspaper.)  We served this with some wonderful crusty bread and Beer/Wine of course!  Guests are still talking about it!   I'm sure this can be used with Crab as well.  But, IMO simple is best!
     
  19. tylerm713

    tylerm713

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    I feel obligated to inject my opinion in this matter. In Louisiana, crawfish and crab boils are a near religious experience in the spring. We do things considerably different than other parts of the country, so I can understand if the following method doesn't necessarily make everyone want to try it. We boil our crustaceans in heavily spiced water with lemons, mushrooms, corn on the cob, new potatoes, andouille, whole heads of garlic (sorry KY), and really anything else that might be appetizing. You have to remember in this method, the ingredients in the crab boil really don't share flavors; all the flavor is from the liquid. Speaking of liquid, my suggestion is plain old water from a garden hose (assuming your municipal water is acceptably clean) with Zatarain's pro boil. We also add more cayenne pepper, bay leaves, and dried oregano. If you are one that likes the delicate flavor of crab, don't use my method. Just boil in salted water with lemons. However, if you like your crabs to have some good bold flavor, the Louisiana method is the way to go.

    Cheers. 
     
  20. pdxjazz

    pdxjazz

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    I too live in Oregon and have a vacation home up on the Puget Sound where we cook allot of seafood. I have done the traditional crab boil, but prefer to use the steaming method similar to cooking steamer clams. It has much more flavor and you aren't dipping the bread in soup. We throw in a couple cubes of butter and white wine with some Old Bay seasoning. The potatoes (red, white, or Yukons) will take the longest so those go in first. After a few minutes of cooking I add fresh Italian sausage links (not everyone likes the taste of Chorizo). Cook for another few minutes and add the cleaned crabs. Cook another few minutes and add the fresh corn cobs and steamer clams.

    It's important that you use steamer clams (or mussels or both) as they provide the liquid that helps flavors the wine/butter, but I suppose you could use some bottled clam broth instead. We use clams as we all like them. We also clean our crabs first by taking off the backshell, breaking the crab in two, and cleaning out the insides. Rinse the crab well. This way the crab meat doesn't overcook trying to get the insides up to a safe temp, and the body meat will taste much cleaner, fresher, and remain white. We never steam or boil our crabs whole.

    Regarding the red crabs, those are actually Red Rock Crabs. The only section you eat is the one large claw but that is kind of cruel as it leaves the crab without a way to defend themself (the crab gets thrown back in after removing the claw).

    Another addition you might want to try is artichokes. We cut them in half, scoop out the "fur" around the heart, and add them early when the potatoes go in. Pretty good... I also agree with the above poster, some good bread and a Caesar salad is perfect. Don't forget the great microbrews and wines we make around here!