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Crab Stock...Any Suggestions???

I'm getting a bushel of NC blue crabs today and have never made a stock from them before. Seems like great flavor just going to waste. I'll be cooking most of them with Old Bay & know how much it would change the taste of a stock. A few questions..... Wash the OB off from cooked crabs? Cook some crabs w/out OB and use those shells only? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!!

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  1. Both, but it seems a shame to dispose of the original cooking water, even if just steaming, as that will have a lot of flavor too. Can you cook them without seasoning and use the OB only at the table? Probably heresy to suggest this, I suppose.

    1. Blue crabs are perfect for seafood gumbo. What about making a gumbo which would use both the meat and the shells (to make the stock that is then used to make the gumbo)?

      2 Replies
      1. re: 1POINT21GW

        Never thought of doing a gumbo...will definately look into it. Living here on the coast of NC, I have access to all kinds of "fresh" seafood this time of year. Was also thinking of doing a crab-corn chowder since corn in "in" season now.

      2. You would be better off using raw crab to make your stock.

        1. I wouldn't worry about rinsing the OB off if you are going to use the stock in a recipe that could benefit from the flavor. Gumbo as previously suggested, or a jambalaya or risotto. I haven't made crab stock before, but I often make shrimp stock with the leftover heads and shells from a shrimp boil and the seasoning really enhances the stock for other similarly flavored dishes.

          1. Just to be clear, I was suggesting using a handful of crabs to make gumbo with from start to finish. I was not suggesting to make the stock with or without Old Bay, then, sometime later, make gumbo with that stock.

            I would never put Old Bay in a seafood gumbo, but that just my family's taste.

            1. Use the OB. Crab shells themselves have little flavor.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ipsedixit

                I have always used Crab shells to make my bisque base and I assure you they have lots of flavor.

              2. I cooked the crabs with Old Bay and saved most of the legs. Only washed off a little of the OB. I have a couple of pounds of heads-on shrimp that I plan on using the shells & heads for my stock too. Since these were # 1 Jimmies, there's quite a bit of meat (and flavor) still left in the legs.

                1. I make crab stock all the time for gumbo. What I do is boil the crabs I want to use in the gumbo (I use a different seasoning than Old Bay but it's not much different) then let them cool down. When cool enough to handle I clean the crab bodies from the shells by cracking the crab open after first taking out the claws and the legs. Be careful doing this and do it with a quick snap or the meat will come out of the body - especially if the crabs haven't cooled sufficiently.

                  This is where is gets a little tricky. When you pry the body out of the shell you'll see the crab internal organs and you'll need to clean this off the the crab body and with some gently running water you'll also want to rinse the inside of the shell. HOWEVER, and this is a big HOWEVER, along the inside of the shell as you go out to the points on either side there is some brown crab fat that you want to keep in the shell as you make the stock so you want to be careful not to clean this off. This will give the stock a lot of flavor. It's a little difficult but once you get the hang of it you'll see what I'm talking about. In fact, I don't even get the shells 100% clean as I want to make sure I keep the brown fat.

                  Once all the crabs are cleaned cover the shells with water and let gently boil for about 30 minutes. When cool, strain well through a sieve to get out the crab fat and other pieces that may have been attached to the shell. Use this as the stock for your gumbo. I live along Galveston Bay and make gumbo like this a couple times a month during crab season.

                  The other thing you can do is when you have your gumbo made (with a dark, dark brown roux of course) keep a little bit of the broth. This is a lot of work but if you clean all the meat off the crab bodies (although throwing a couple of whole bodies and claws into the gumbo while it's cooking also adds a lot of flavor) you can make stuffed crabs (having saved and cleaned the shells you boiled for the stock) or stuffed shrimp (broiled) with the gumbo stock acting as the liquid binder. Saute out a little onion, garlic and green pepper and when softened add the crab meat to warm. Then add in your fresh bread crumbs (not many - just enough to make the crab and vegetable mixture come together) along with a little of the gumbo broth to hold everything together. When cool, stuff into the shells or on some shrimp and bake. I usually put a little parmesan and paprika along the top with a squeeze of lemon and/or lime to make it look nice.

                  1. Look at what is in "Old Bay" I did recently and it's pretty much what my standard rub I've been using for the past 40 yrs. I would just take the shells and simmer them with a mira pioux, or trinity if making a roux. After that the sky is the limit in terms of flavoring.

                    1. Here's what I did...which is pretty much what gulfcoastpirate had suggested. I steamed about 3 dozen by themselves (without vinegar, just beer) but did use a little Old Bay. Picked the large pieces of meat out. Used those bodies (that still has some crab in them), plus the addition of picked claws & legs from the whole bushel. Also used a bunch of shrimp shells and heads. Made the stock with the addition of a few veggies, and simmered low for about an hour. Stock turned out very flavorful. Froze both cotainers of stock and plan on making a seafood gumbo this weekend for guests coming in.