July 2007

July 2007
July 2007

CLEANING AND COOKING CRABS

by Larry E. Stefanyk

I once encountered some folks on the beach who had been crabbing and were preparing to enjoy the results of their effort. A large pot filled with saltwater was resting atop a Coleman gas stove, and when it came to a boil they simply tossed in the live Dungeness crabs. That’s when I shook my head and wandered off,

wondering why on earth anyone would eat crabs that hadn’t been properly cleaned. Especially when it can be done so quickly and easily. The meat is cleaner, almost milk white in appearance, and tastes much better.
I always take extra ice in my cooler for transporting live crabs. I put a layer of ice on the bottom, then place a few crabs on the ice. These are covered with kelp fronds from the beach, then another layer of ice and more kelp. This keeps the crabs cold, which slows down their metabolism and keeps them from fighting.

After arriving home I clean and cook the crabs immediately. The kelp goes into our compose bin, so nothing is wasted.

I know of three methods for cleaning crabs. Fishing guru Charlie White suggests turning a shovel or garden spade upside down. Grasp the crab’s legs at both sides and then whack the centre of its body down hard against the sharp edge. The body will split in two and the carapace (shell) will pull free and drop away.
Editor Bob Jones prefers to flip the crab over and grab the legs on both sides, then place his thumb tips together in the centre of the body. Hooking one side of the carapace against the edge of something solid like a dock piling or large rock, he pulls upward while at the same time pushing down hard with his thumbs. The carapace instantly rips loose and the body snaps in two.
My process is to flip the crab on his back (hey, we can keep only males) and use a large, sharp butcher knife to split the body up the centre without cutting through the carapace. I then grab the legs on each side and pull the body free of the carapace into two pieces.

With either of these three methods a crab is killed instantly, and giving the body halves a good shake will remove most of the entrails. The remainder can be easily picked free while rinsing them off.
Once cleaned, they are ready to cook. I suggest this be done immediately as crabs don’t keep well. Some prefer to use sea water, but I like clean tap water and sea salt. I fill a large stock pot half full and add three or four handfuls of sea salt. After bringing it to a boil, I drop in the pieces for 12 to 15 minutes. I have some melted butter waiting, and if I’m lucky enough to remember, some French bread. A meal fit for royalty....

SOME POINTS OF LAW

• Dungeness crabs must be a least 165 mm in width and all female crabs must be released.
• Undersized crabs must be returned to the water immediately.
• While transporting crabs, the carapace must remain attached until it is consumed or arrives at your ordinary residence.

• For crab closures, check with the Fisheries and Oceans Canada office closest to where you intend to harvest them, or visit www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc/recfish and refer to the Shellfish Table for Daily Limits.

You may also check with your local DFO office for possible regulation changes.

• For Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP or Red Tide) closures, phone the Openings and Closures 24-Hour Toll Free Line at 1-866-431-FISH (1-866-431-3474) or (604) 666-2828 in the Lower Mainland.
 

Huxley’s Run: 

JUNGLE BOOK


By Dr. Adipose Huxley

The opportunity was precious. For three weeks I would return to bachelorhood. For three weeks I would truly be the king in my own castle. The Queen and the Princess were leaving for a rendezvous with relatives from North Carolina and Alberta. For business reasons, I would keep the home fires burning.

This, of course, meant that should the home fires get out of control, I could douse them with beer. It would also mean that if the home fires failed to burn as brightly as I wanted, I could bolster those flames with the articles of clothing that seem to fall from the ceiling within hours of the Queen’s departure.

For three glorious weeks, the reins would be off and I would be free to pursue the leisurely pursuits of the common bachelor. For instance, on the first night I walked into the house, into the kitchen for a beer, into the living room, turned on the hockey game, and then watched it intently while the barbecue was warming up outside. Not a particularly bold and daring move you say? Would you believe I did it without taking my shoes off?
Then there was the barbecue itself. The Queen and the Princess prefer, nay, demand their meats shoe-leather tough. On that particular night I took the lariat off the cow, clipped its horns, bulldogged it onto the barbecue -- briefly -- and then hummed Red River Valley all the while I was eating.

My private dinner, believe it or not, was consumed in the living room. I also had corn on the cob. Not a major feat in itself, you say? But remember, I did so with the entire container of butter on the TV tray.

Such heady stuff should suffice, I suppose. It should have been enough to exalt in that quiet peace. But, decadent fellow that I am, it was not enough. I took the dishes to the sink, grabbed a beer and sat back down to watch the hockey game. And that wasn’t all. Sitting there on my throne, the passion of power overcame me. I could not control myself. I didn’t put the TV tray away. That was my first night. After that I committed every sin for which the Queen and her Princess would have tossed me into the dungeon.

I missed garbage day.

I fished. Glorious spring evenings on the river and estuary, with cool refreshment waiting in the quiet pub.

I fished.

I fished.

I fished.

I golfed.

Did I happen to mention that I fished?

I did not watch one episode of Barney. I not watch one episode of Lunette and her moth-eaten Molly.
I left the video of The Jungle Book on the shelf to collect the dust it so richly deserved after 2,003 viewings in the Huxley household.

One might think I was a happy man. And I was. But a phone call one evening signalled an end to it all. There were only seven words in the conversation. Seven words pronounced by a little lady whose mastery of the English language had seemed to blossom beyond all reasonable proportions in a few short weeks.

“Miss Daddy,” she said. “Big hugs.” Then I heard the little “tick” that could for all intents and purposes have been phone line static had it not been for that grown up little voice adding, “Big kiss, Dad.”

There was a numbness just then. The castle had lost its glitter. The lights seemed not enough to dispel the shadows. The freedom of bachelorhood seemed nothing more than a prison cell with invisible bars.

I knew that the 2,004th viewing of The Jungle Book would go well. I would even do my Balu the Bear song and dance that made my little Princess giggle so deliciously. But when Mowgli was entering the Man Village and Balu was beckoning him to return, my own lips would mouth Balu’s words, “Come back, come back...”

Something caught in my throat. It wasn’t steak and it wasn’t corn on the cob and it wasn’t freedom. It was the fragrant blossom of a little girl’s hair, the surprising strength of a little girl’s hug, the enigmatic electricity of a little girl’s kiss, and the hollow heart of a father missing his daughter.

 

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