Showing posts with label crabs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label crabs. Show all posts

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Coconut Crabs

Since today is National Crab Day, let's celebrate a crab you may not know a lot about, the coconut crab.  They are a relative of the hermit crab. They are the largest land arthropod currently on Earth (million of years ago there were bigger ones when Earth's oxygen levels were higher).  They live in the original island habitat of the coconut palm in the Indo-Pacific.  I am not encouraging you eating these crabs, there is too much of that going on for that.  I have eaten this crab in the past (I do not eat them now) and they are delicious.  But there are other crabs available that are equally delicious and are more sustainable.

Update:  Did coconut crabs eat Amelia Earhart?
Coconut crabs, Birgus latro, are (unfortunately for them) they are rare.
The one above is just massive and was allegedly on Christmas Island

Coconut Crab Distribution Map
One of the last strongholds for the coconut crab is Palmyra Atoll about 1000 miles southeast of Hawaii.  The islands are uninhabited (except for some researchers and occasional visitors) and is owned by the Nature Conservancy (partnered with U.S. Fish and Wildlife).  So people are not eating the crabs there.

Since you can probably not get coconut crab where you live (and even if you can get them, it is good to leave some for the future) here is a crab recipe you can make virtually anywhere.  

World's Best Crab Cakes

This is not the world's best crab cake recipe.  Now the Ritz crackers are a good idea.  I have used them and they work really well.  Japanese planko works well too.  But this recipe is too spicy.  Crab cakes, especially if you are using fresh premium crab meat, need to focus on its primary ingredient.  The filler (crackers, bread crumbs, etc.), things like celery or celeriac, and eggs are all about framing the crab, not over powering it.

So I would leave the mustard out entirely (if you really like mustard add a bit in).  I would go with a wee bit of Old Bay (I use a saltless version that is really good).  I do add grated celeriac and some shallots.  I would save the spice for any dipping sauces to complement the crab cakes.

There is also this Nigella Lawson crab cake recipe.  Wasabi is a powerful condiment, but there is a reason is is used in sushi and sashimi.  Horseradish (and wasabi is Japanese horseradish) has a way of bringing out the seafood flavor.  So that is the exception to the crab spicing rule I mentioned above.  Still, I like strong flavors adjustable (such as a side condiment) for something like crab cakes.

Proof's Nigella Lawon's Rule 5, January 2011 
EBL's Nigella Lawson's Rule 5, March 2013

Coconut Crab (with Nigella)

Nigella Lawson Rule 5

Celebrate National Crab Day

Today is National Crab Day.  The ones that swim in the ocean.  Below are the primary eating crabs in North America.  The blue and stone are found in the Atlantic.  The dungeness, snow, and king in the Pacific (there are snow and king crab in the North Atlantic too).  So eat up.  While good king crab is amazing, I personally prefer blue and dungeness for flavor (but that may be because unless you are in Dutch Harbor, snow and king crab are almost always frozen).  Stone crab claws outside of a good restaurant in Florida is usually disappointing.

Blue and dungeness crab meat makes wonderful crab cakes.  Crab meat is too great to mess up with a lot of spices.  I would, however, recommend adding shredded celeriac root to crab cakes.  The celery root pairs well with crab meat and it fries up crispy.  Add in a little shaved shallot too (I use a mandolin).  Japanese style panko breadcrumbs (unflavored) work really well.

Update:  Here is a Nigella Lawson post with crab recipes.
Blue Crab
Stone Crab
Dungeness Crab

Snow Crab
King Crab

Friday, January 11, 2013

Are gentle sea pigs endangered by voracious king crabs coming up from the depths thanks to global warming?

Okay, sea pigs are interesting creatures.  They are actually a sea cucumber, which is a animal.

Are they really in danger of extinction in Antarctica due to king crabs invading their habitat due to global warming?  Probably not since they live in virtually all the worlds oceans and seem to thrive in deep water (where there are plenty of crabs).

Sea Pig Song (language warning)!

California cold snap threatens citrus crop...

Are king crabs really poised to kill all endemic invertebrate sea life in Antarctica?

King crabs from the deep invading shallow Antarctic waters
and eating gentle invertebrates!
[start screaming now!]
I am a bit skeptical.  I would suspect crabs occasionally move in and out of areas.  Cycles in the Antarctic are not necessarily seasonal, but I find it hard to believe there have not been periods of warming over 30 million years.  The article claims that this unique underwater ecosystem in Antarctica has been protected and isolated for 30 million years, but this comment at the article makes a good point:
Comment by Carlyle on another article: "So although the West antarctic melted entirely 3 million years ago, the original authors claim the crabs MAY have been excluded for fourteen My, just for luck SIAM doubled it & then rounded up a further 2 My & when I challenged them they deleted my post. I hope you can begin to see that this is not aberant behaviour. It is typical. You can look up the Ice record for Antarctica yourself if you doubt me. There could even have been later melts & almost certainly numerous times that match the present." I did not see the original post, but why would SA delete this?
I am guessing these "monsters" are delicious with drawn butter!  
Maybe we can convince the Japanese to leave the whales alone and focus on this ocean menace! 
Are gentle sea pigs in danger?
California cold snap threatens citrus crop...