Saturday, June 6, 2009

Soft Shell Crabs From The Source.

Mr. Hawthorne and I took a bit of a detour off Colington Road to the source of the soft shells. The crabber himself.
This is hard work. The crabbers go out on their boats everyday, spending hours setting and baiting the crab traps, known as peeler pots, and checking on their catch, and following the crabs as they move throughout the sounds and waters, such movement dependent upon climatic conditions, winds, water temperatures, environmental conditions, and the vagaries of nature. They must inspect each crab, looking for the tell-tale red or pink line on the swimmer fin which indicates the crab is ready to molt. It's a good thing this is seasonal work, else these watermen would certainly burn out.
They bring the crabs back and put them in these troughs. And watch. And wait. When the crabbies molt, (And you have a 2-4 hour window here.) they're taken out of the water and packed for shipment or for local sale. If they're left in the water, the shell starts to harden. And this is a round the clock process, hence the lights over the troughs.
The crabs are separated into different holding areas depending on their shedding progress.
These little crabs may be on my plate tonight.
I liked this picture of the cages.
Mr. Hawthorne bought 20 of these culinary gems. For $2.00 a piece.
He cleaned 6 of them for our supper last night and cleaned and froze the rest for later. This particular one is a female and he's getting ready to cut off her apron.
This is what I have to work around in the kitchen: Giada sniffing Junior's butt and Junior sniffing Dixie's butt. Just a little daisy chain of butt-sniffing.
If there's one thing we can cook, and cook extremely well, it's soft shells.
Crunchy, crispy, delicate, juicy little leg. All I want on mine is a little lemon juice. But you could make a nice tartar sauce or remoulade if you wanted. This is the only way to eat a soft shell - when the crab was in the water just a few hours ago, then was cleaned, battered, and put in the pan to fry. Doesn't get any better than this. Here's an older post of mine that explains some of the crabbing process. And here's some information from the NC Department of Marine Fisheries.


Marion said...

You know, Rosie, you keep this up and you better write a book. It's better than most stuff in the bookstores. Why not compile into

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Thanks, Marion, for the compliment.
Mr. Hawthorne has been after me to do this. And I've actually written the first chapter. I just have to figure out the direction I want to go. And how to make it different from other cook books.