Marinating crabs is a time-honored way to breathe new life into and extend the enjoyment of leftover boiled crabs. My grandmother’s dear friend Josie, who was like an aunt to us, began making this glorious finger food for my family decades ago. It’s a happy mess of highly seasoned boiled crabs drenched in what is best described as a chunky olive oil-based vinaigrette and eaten in the same manner as boiled crabs–with your hands. Most of us will jump at the chance to host a backyard crab boil just so we can set aside a dozen or so crabs for this encore appearance! Josie passed away years ago. But memories of her nurturing spirit and restaurant-worthy cooking skills remain strong as we continue to preserve and pass on all of her wonderful recipes.
To round out this 10-napkin meal, clean, crisp seasonal beers are in order. Try Southern Tier’s Hop Sun if you’re looking for something light but that still has body and character. If you’re searching for something a little more substantial, go for a Lagunitas’ Little Sumpin’ Wild. I’ve officially designated this one my favorite summer brew for the second year in a row. It’s a busy beer–hoppy, citrusy, yeasty, earthy, spicy–that’s goes down smooth because it’s so well balanced. It also packs a punch (9.4% ABV) that Hop Sun (at 5.1% ABV) can’t touch.
Until next week …
Marinated Crabs Recipe
1/2 dozen well-seasoned boiled crabs (preferably Louisiana blue crabs leftover from a crab boil)
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 2 teaspoons parsley flakes)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Saltine crackers, for serving
Prepare the crabs. Peel off the aprons (the flaps on the belly that determine the sex of the crab), pry off the backs (the hard shells), scrape off the dead men (the spongy gills on both sides of the body) and cut off the face/mouthparts (on the opposite side of the body from the apron).* Discard everything you removed from the body. Break the crabs in half and place in a large shallow dish. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over crabs. Cut lemon half into four pieces; toss with crabs. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine chopped onions with remaining ingredients. Pour onion mixture over crabs and gently toss until evenly coated. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight. When ready to serve, remove crabs from refrigerate and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Stir gently, spoon into serving bowls and top with a generous amount of marinade. Peel the crabs with your fingers, mix in some of the marinade and eat straight up or piled high on saltine crackers. Makes 4-6 appetizer servings.
*Some female crabs (the ones with dome-shaped aprons and “painted” red tipped claws) may contain crab roe which is the hard orange stuff found in the body cavity. Crab roe, along with the soft yellow fat (it’s actually not fat, but I’ll leave it at that), are both edible and will add depth and richness to this dish. However, if you find either or both unappealing, simply scrape off before marinating.