December 18, 2006
Originally published July 3, 2004
My daughter sent me an email today and said that she and Stacey would like to go crabbing while they're in Savannah. Samantha's been crabbing since she was a tiny tot, but Stacey has never done it before. I told Sam that I would take them.
I know of a wonderful honey-hole over near Bluffton, South Carolina, but the dumbass, revenue-enhancers in that state passed a law a couple of years ago requiring a FISHING LICENSE to crab in their creeks. I don't have one and I'll be damned if I'll pay South Carolina $25 to catch crabs.
I told Sam that we'll go anyway. If we get caught, we'll all plead complete ignorance of the law, apologize profusely and I'll pay the fine. But we're talking about four hours on the incoming tide in a place near the middle of nowhere. What are the chances of getting caught? Slim to none, I calculate, and I'm willing to risk it. It ain't like I never fished without a license before.
Crabbing is a lot of fun. The right bait is essential. Anything stinking, rotten and disgusting will work. I buy chicken necks (CHEAP!) and I leave them out in the sun for a couple of days before I use them as bait. They get ripe and funky, just the way a crab likes them. Tie a chicken neck on a piece of twine and drop it in the water. Wait a few minutes and slooowly, very slooowly pull the bait out of the water. Have a hand-net handy to catch the crab that will be hanging on to that piece of rotten meat.
I also like to bait dip-net traps, sink them in the water and go check them every 15 minutes or so. You can catch four or five BIG BLUES at a time like that. Usually at my honey hole, I can catch a bushel of crabs before the tide gets too high to make the effort worthwhile anymore. Crabs are the garbage collectors of the salt water, but they make mighty fine eating.
Do you know how to pick a crab? A lot of people don't. The Southeastern Blue Crab is NOT like those crab claws you buy at Red Lobster. No, it's a sneaky critter that hides its delicious meat in all sorts of nooks and crannies. Here's how I do it:
1) Boil the crabs for at least 10 minutes, with lots of seasoning in the water.
2) Take a cooked crab. Tear off the shell on top. Break the crab in half. Peel away all the gills (dead-man's fingers) and that other, yellow shit inside there.
3) Carefully disengage the legs with a delicate, twisting motion. Big chunks of white meat will come out still attached.
4) Break the crab into quarters, then open it like riffling a deck of cards. Pick the meat from all the nooks and crannies.
5) Save the claws for last because they're easy.
It's a lot more work picking crabs than it is catching them, but when you're done, try this:
*Two cans of cream of celery soup. Add one can of milk and one can of water.
*Throw in a whole stick of REAL butter. Add three tablespoons of Worchestershire sauce.
*Heat on the stove while dicing, very fine, one onion, one bell pepper and two stalks of celery. Saute' the Holy Trinity in a separate pan until the onions become translucent and limp.
*Add red pepper, black pepper and salt to taste. (I like mine COVERED in pepper right before it starts to simmer.)
*As the mix begins to simmer, add the Holy Trinity. Stir.
*Add all the crab meat you've picked. Stir.
*Cook on low heat so that you don't scorch the milk, and allow the mixture to simmer while you stir frequently and smell the amazing aromas coming out of that pot.
*Serve with oyster crackers and cold beer.
That's ACIDMAN'S FAMOUS CRAB STEW and if you ever try it, you'll like it.
All content © Rob Smith