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Dec 11, 2013 08:12 PM

Blue crabs in Paris? Was I hallucinating?

Dear Paris hounds,
Going back to Paris in January and wanted to ask if any of you have seen blue crabs in Paris? I was there in October and saw what I thought were BLUE CRABS on the STREET in Belleville...well, this Maryland girl couldn't believe it! I was thinking of treating my friends to a real Maryland crab feast - was thinking of carting some Old Bay in my suitcase, but wanted to know if any of you Parisians have seen blue crabs anywhere in Paris. Here's a picture of my sister, who lives in Germany, having a moment...please let me know that this was not a once in a Paris experience! I want to treat my Paris peeps to a real crab feast...

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  1. I don't know if they're the same species, but I have seen similar looking crabs in Chinese supermarkerts - often in one on the rue de de l'Echiquier in the 10th.

    1 Reply
    1. re: vielleanglaise

      The supermarket there is great, albeit transcendentally dirty.

    2. Yeah, you see them all the time in Belleville. Paris peeps aren't too partial to them - using them mostly for bisque, preferring the higher yield and delicious innards of tourteaux for feasts.

      1. Blue crabs are also used in Southeast Asia. No wonder you saw them in Belleville. Since they're either frozen or not very fresh, I'd pick tourteau, araignée or étrille any time.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Ptipois

          If frozen, thus not live, why are the claws rubber banded, which does not happen to Blues in US ?
          They sure look like Callinectes Sapidus, yum !
          Still waiting for Md invite from you Sistereurope.

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            I worry about the not very fresh part (and would never buy them frozen!) I guess I'll see what's what when I'm in town in January...perhaps I can substitute another species for the feast? What would taste good steamed in Old Bay and beer I wonder?
            DCM, we'd have to partake of MD blues, check back after memorial day hon!!

            1. re: sistereurope

              Any crab-like critter would be great in Old Bay and beer.

              Spider crabs are my favorite. Etrilles (swimmer crabs) are also wondrous tasty and meaty, and in size and taste they'd be closer to blue crabs.
              Tourteau is good but you get tired of it rather quickly, it is a rather heavy meat, especially eaten cold. Just warm from the court-bouillon, I find it easier to stomach.

              Don't forget the homemade mayo and add plenty of chilli - a good dose of piment d'Espelette = yummy.

              1. re: sistereurope

                If you do see some blues at a Chinese market in Paris and they happen to be wigglin' and kickin', they can't possibly be unfresh.

                However, I would be wary of immobility, even with rubbered claws.

                1. re: sistereurope

                  Fav meal in 2013 was blues at Mr Bill's Terrace late August. l have a supply of his steaming spice in Paris just in case l ever see frisky blues, was less salt than Old Bay.
                  No email on your page to get back to you, put it on mine, please.

                2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  I meant generally, not the ones on the photo, of course.

              2. Hi sister; me too a Balto-moron in origin, well, sort of.
                Yes there are such here and yes the ones I've seen are in Belleville, but why bother to bring over Old Bay; why not do as everyone suggests - eat the local stuff not that from Southeast Asia, we both know that except for Eddie's, most blue crabs and crab meat sold in Maryland is/are imported.
                Locavore, sister, locavore.

                4 Replies
                1. re: John Talbott

                  Thanks Ptipois, great ideas, I might experiment! Etrilles sound intriguing, John, I hear you, am totally spoiled after discovering a local crabber in Dundalk...maybe local crab-like critters steamed in French beer and Old Bay is the way to go, And then I can make some crab cakes with French (a opposed to FrenchS) mustard...thanks for letting me think this through here...:)

                  1. re: sistereurope

                    I guess you could use Old Bay with tourteau and étrilles, but I don't recommend it on araignées (spider crabs). They are too delicate and sweet to get that treatment.

                    Just a good spoonful of piment d'Espelette (get the Haranea brand from Terroirs d'Avenir, it's really the only one worth having), two or three bay leaves and a correct amount of salt in the cooking water, that's all they need.

                    1. re: Ptipois

                      I've never had spider crabs but I love piment d'Esplette,,,I see a whole seafood feast in my future!Thanks for the recipe.
                      I looked at some pictures of etrilles, they do seem blue crab like.I am definitely bringing the Old Bay and will be sure to report back.

                      1. re: sistereurope

                        In terms of taste and texture of the meat, étrilles are the closest thing to blue crabs available in France.

                2. The original comment has been removed
                  1. You can find perfectly alive and wiggling blue crabs in the Faubourg-Saint-Denis/rue Cail area.
                    There is a Srilankan fishmonger on rue du FSD who has them, as well as red snapper, grouper, pomfret and other exotic marine species. So there's already an import connection.

                    1. re: Ptipois

                      Merci Ptipois! I made some MD style crab cakes when I was in Paris a few weeks ago, Used canned king crab, mainly because I was too lazy to track down some live blue crabs or blue crab substitute...thanks to some smuggled Old Bay seasoning and French's American style yellow mustard, they actually came out really tasty. My French friend who lived in MD and who hadn't tasted a crab cake in 8 years was happy, but I have promised others a true crab feast in September, so live crabs are needed. So thanks again!

                      1. re: sistereurope

                        Next time you want to make crabcakes in Paris, use araignée de mer. The taste and texture of the flesh are perfect.

                        1. re: Ptipois

                          Not sure how it has come to pass that I will make crab cakes whenever I am in Paris, but it has, so thanks! I will keep that in mind for Sept! Thanks again...