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Feb 13, 2009 07:37 AM

Please clue me into stone crabs - moved from Florida board

A recent transplant, I have been eyeing the stone crab in the cases. But it is expensive and I have no idea how to cook, serve or eat it. Help! Thanks.

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  1. Any stone crab I have ever bought was already cooked. That being said I like the crabs at Joe's which I have found on my last visit(last Mar) was far more reasonably priced than any of those dumps on lincoln road.

    Just do like they do there. Crack em, put em on a plate or ice and serve with the dijon/horseradish/mayo sauce....good stuff

    1. I learned about stone crab (claws, in particular) because the little crabs are attracted by the same bait as are lobsters, and end up in the traps as a bonus. We had a local couple, the Toths, who ran something called Fresh Catch Express. They had a contract to buy the day catch from a commercial fisherman in Boston. It was flown alive and kicking from Logan to Detroit Metro Airport and thence to their eager customers here in Ann Arbor. I could get a half-pound of steamed stone crab claws for just a few dollars. I would buy a couple of pounds, and always finished the first container before I ever made it to my house. So, that's suggestion number one. Sorry they are charging a lot of money for them down there - my guess is they are the same bonus crop that they are Back East.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Etsweiler

        Etsweiler - I suspect you're talking about a different critter. Florida stone crabs are not little, and to my knowledge are not found in northern climes. In addition, Florida stone crabs could not be "flown alive and kicking" b/c they are only harvested for one claw at a time (they regenerate their claws). and are immediately cooked and iced.

        Responding to OP - stone crabs are only sold pre-cooked, chilled, and (usually) cracked. Nothing to it other than pulling off the shell and eating the meat (there is a piece of cartilage that runs up the middle of the large part of the claw - don't eat that). Sometimes you may need to do a litle work on the shell if they've not been cracked well. Don't forget the "knuckles", they're the best part. Traditionally served with mustard sauce or drawn butter. Almost never served warm because heat causes them to release a strong iodine flavor.

        1. re: Frodnesor

          Mustard is much better than drawn butter for stone crabs...

          1. re: tpigeon

            My concoction of mayo and Bajan chili ginger sauce is even better.

        2. re: Etsweiler

          There aren't any stone crabs here in the northeast. Definitely something else.

          1. re: Etsweiler

            I hope your talking about Blue Crabs and not Stone Crabs.

          2. joe's is easy access and good, but a bit more expensive
            i feel like i've had decent stone crab for less from other places like casablanca fish market
            i usually get the select along with mustard sauce...
            the cheapest stone crab i've had was in the keys (marathon)
            for $11/lb medium select
            from what i was told, the broken off claws have to be cooked right away so the meat doesn't stick to the inside of the claw

            1. Stone crab is expensive, there's no way around it. Costco occassionally has for $15 a lb. Casablanca downtown and Capt. Jim's in Miami Shores have good prices too. You've got great suggestions above on how to prepare (or how not to prepare). If you don't get them pre-cracked (which is what I do) take them home and when ready to eat place the claw between a couple of kitchen towels and whack each section (claw and 2 knuckles) with the handle of a butter knife whacking the main claw part harder than the knuckles.

              1 Reply
              1. re: lax2mia

                Instead of beating up your crab between a towel here's a very simple way to crack them.
                Put one on each hand, holding them by your fingers so you can swing them and and lightly smack the two claws together. One will crack nicely with out damaging the meat or making a huge mess. Of course you still have to crack your last one but once you discover that they crack like porcelain when smacked into each other you will never struggle to crack stone crabs again.
                I have had Colossals that you would never, ever crack them with a butter knife. ;)

              2. I have heard that seafood in warm waters lacks the flavor of their cold water cousins. What's your experience? I've had only the New England version, so I can't speak to the rest, apart from Tilapia from, I guess, Florida.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Etsweiler

                  Florida's warmer waters are great for different fish than the colder waters, and I've eaten in both places. No lack of flavor with yellowtail, tripletail, pompano, dolphin (mahi-mahi) wahoo, grouper, and dozens of others. WE do not have the Northern delights such as cod or walleye. Tilapia is farm raised and has little taste-it's from S. America-not native to Florida.

                  I've had those say that the Maine lobster is better than the Florida "lobster", which lacks the two large claws, has panful spines if you wrstle with it, and and looks like a crawfish on steroids. I've steamed tails of both, plucked from the shells, then set them before all knowing "Mainiacs", and they couldn't tell the difference. (Yes, i could only serve tails in the comparison.) That said, there's boatloads of Maine lobsters consumed in Florida.

                  Stone crabs are, as Frodnesor noted, a local treat, I've not heard of them even as far north as mid-Florida. And yes, only one claw is harvested, which is alawys cooked before you get it at the store-whether "fresh" or frozen. Appalachicola oysters are quite tasty, and compare favorable to those "up north". They seem less salty overall than some of the Pacific oysters.

                  1. re: Etsweiler

                    1. There are no stone crabs in the Northeast, hence no comparison is possible.

                    2. There are stone crabs in East Central Florida. They're not very abundant but you can find them in the Banana River east of Merritt Island. They are a by-catch for crabbers going after blue crabs (crabbers eat very, very well) and because their numbers are small, if you want fresh stone claws, you need to buddy up with a crabber.

                    3. I thinks you have it backwards; Oysters from "up north" compare favorably with the species found in the gulf :)

                    1. re: bkhuna


                      Do check your geography, you may have it backwards. Apalachicola was still in the Gulf, unless someone moved the town and oyster beds! Their oysters are arguable Florida's Gulf's best.

                      They hold their own to any other oysters nationwide- Do try some, and learn of Florida's Gulf treasures! We really do agree on points 1 and 3.

                      Good to know stone crabs can be found in mid Florida. Even as by-catch, perhaps some can get a taste for them, and maybe the crabbers will grow a market there.

                      Can you recommend some good casual restaurants for great seafood on the East Coast, from Jacksonville to Merritt?

                      Thank you!

                      1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                        That's what I not so precisely said. By "up north" I was referring to oysters from places like Washington, Canada, etc. They are indeed yummy, and compare favorably with Apalachicola oysters which are, to me at least, the crème de la crème.

                        As a native Floridian, oyster eater and foodie traveler, I've consumed wheelbarrow loads of the wonderful bivalves in and around The Forgotten Coast.

                        Glad we got that straightened out. Now we have to hear from the "up north" crowd on why they think theirs are the best, a discussion of which there will be no consensus I'm sure.

                        1. re: bkhuna

                          see my profile pic for Apalachicola oysters ; )