The Mint Shop

The Mint Shop

Friday, 18 March 2011

Waiter, there's a crab on my plate!

I should have known that putting off the boring bits of work wouldn't have helped. So now that "my holiday in the sun" is over, and I am back at my little table, I am bored as hell. And waking up in the morning is still so hard. If I could, I would simply stay in bed or anywhere where I am not expected to pretend to work.

I am still half-dreaming the shades of blue of the sea, water and sky of California. I am glad we went in March as despite being sunny it was never too hot; a simple jumper or a shawl was enough to keep away the evening chill. T-shirt and shorts were fantastically pleasant without looking ridiculously under-dressed.  

I would not have guessed that San Diego offered so much - fair to say that everything is around outdoor activities, sea and beach but after all "who would prefer to lock herself indoor"? Dining on a roof terrace sipping Mojito and eating fresh seafood at sunset was a real bliss.

This was a very Italian fence. I couldn't not take a photo of it.

Santa Barbara, only a few hundreds of miles north of San Diego (yes, *only* as in American terms this mean being "almost around the corner") feels and looks like a very polished and tidy Mexican town. And that's where we had the most gigantic crab I've ever seen. And it was served whole on the plate. Those little black eyes staring at us...

But it was so fresh and light, not at all like the ones we get here which always seem to be covered with an odd looking pink paste. This variety is called Dungeness - which at first I thought it meant that the crabs had been locked in a dark cell...

This one was simply steamed in salted boiling water to which only a little bit of vinegar and cayenne pepper had been added. The recipe sounds pretty straightforward. I suspect though that cooking the little fellow is more of a challenge. I heard that even crabs and lobsters feel pain and apparently that they scream, although only dogs can hear them. How terrifying!

It seems that the best method is to flip the crab on its back and then to kill it by "putting an ice-pick through its central nervous system". Not sure how you can spot the nervous system but I guess you can work it out. Somehow facing the sacrificed creature makes you slightly guilty...

Guilt or not, it was delicious. It can be served with a light mayonnaise sauce which you can make by beating the yolk of one egg adding gradually half extra olive oil and vegetable oil (which takes away some of the sharpness of the olive oil, and make it cheaper too) and the juice of a lemon. Remember to keep the egg out of the fridge at least for an hour before using it, and to add the oil slowly as otherwise it crumbles (impazzisce - goes mad).

I don't know where you can find these types of crabs. But if you feel rich you can give it a go with lobsters - excellent apparently in Scotland....


  1. Thanks Francesca! We've been missing your posts recently! Lovely photos - even the grumpy-looking crab (well, I suppose he has reason).
    Did you find any other good crab recipes?

  2. Thank you! I like crab in pasta - of course...the recipe I normally make is really easy and super Summery (I will post it soon!).
    In the meantime if you like Mexican food, what about using crab meat for tortillas? A few posts back (September I think).