Feeling Crabby

I LOVE crab. Even though it is expensive and becoming more rare due to environmental conditions, it is an unusually tasty and healthful edible. I eat it as often as I can as a special treat when my budget allows. My favorite crab dishes include boiled crab, crab bisque, crab cakes, and as a key ingredient in gumbo.

One of the oldest species on earth, crab is a delicacy that human beings have surely enjoyed eating since the dawn of civilization. The horseshoe crab, although not popular for ingestion, is a living fossil with a lifespan that goes back over 200 million years! The most popular crabs for culinary use are blue, dungeness, king, peekytoe, rock, snow and stone, which can variously be cooked  by steaming, boiling, baking or frying.

Crab is low in calories, has little fat, is low risk for mercury and is a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamins A, C and B vitamins and minerals like zinc and copper. It is said that eating crab can help improve memory, decrease the chances of having a heart attack, decrease risk of cancer, and help improve depression and anxiety.

During their mating season, crabs march in the thousands toward their breeding grounds. In Jamaica, that happens in May as blue crabs migrate from their habitats in the mangrove swamps to the sea. You find them all over the road in the dark of night and can hear their skittles as they bravely go forth to seek reproduction. In southern American states on the gulf of Mexico, this time is called “glory.”

I remember a Jamaican friend bringing me a big crocker sack full of blue crabs one night in May. A novice at that time, I was appalled when those little suckers escaped the bag and ran all over my kitchen. Something similar happened in my restaurant in France. I had a big bag of baby green crabs who also escaped my gumbo pot thanks to the alarm of a friend who was helping me cook. He did not realize the crabs were alive when he went to put them into the steaming pot. He screamed as he flailed them into the air.

A couple of days ago, I experimented with a new recipe — stuffing huge, delicious portabello mushrooms with a spinach and crab mixture and grilling them in the oven. I made far too much for one person to eat and so put some into the freezer for future use.

PORTABELLO MUSHROOMS stuffed with spinach and crab

INGREDIENTS

8 large Portabello mushrooms
2x eggs (beaten)
1 cup sour cream
½ cup bread crumbs
8 oz spinach (chopped)
2 cups crab meat (chopped)
1 cup cheese (grated parmesan or sharp cheddar)

SEASONING

2 tbs lime juice (fresh)
2 tbs parsley (fresh, chopped)
1 tbs bouillon (chicken)
1 tbs crab boil
1 tbs garlic (minced)
1 tsp pepper (crushed black)

DIRECTIONS

CLEAN mushrooms and ARRANGE gill side up on an oil sprayed cookie sheet
MIX seasoning a small bowl
MIX eggs and sour cream in another bowl
ADD bread crumbs and seasoning to egg mixture
ADD spinach & crab meat
MIX well
TOP mushrooms generously with mixture
GRILL on low setting for about 10 minutes (until mushrooms are done)
TOP mushrooms with cheese
GRILL for 5 more minutes (until cheese melts)

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