BEAUTIFUL SWIMMERS, Callinectes Sapidus, or how 'bout Carolina Blue Crab? They're awake, after spending the winter buried in the mucky muck of the sounds. When the water warms, they emerge, stretch their legs and hopefully, land in the crab pots constructed or repaired all along NC's coastal villages during the winter and which are now being set out in the Pamlico and Albermarle sounds. Because they're rather hungry and rather randy after their long sleep, they're easily lured into crab pots baited with fish, chicken necks or "jimmies" that the females are quite interested in!
On a quick, unexpected trip to a NC beach a few days ago, we scored my first pound of freshly picked crabmeat for the season. I felt like a kid at Christmas who had to wait to ride my new bike until the rain stopped....and I could hardly wait till dinner to warm some in butter. It beats lobster, hands down, any old time. Sweet, tender, bursting with the flavor of the sea, it was divine.
My seafood buddy in New Bern, Ray Hautch at J & B Seafood on HWY 70, tells me that NC crabbers are expecting a rather sad season. Some folks have given up crabbing altogether, he says. Up in the Chesapeake, however, they're expecting a bumper crop. Why's that? I'll have to check it out, and I'll let you know.
It seems almost foolish to give this as a recipe, for there's nothing as simple as spooning cleaned, picked-through crabmeat into melted butter!
I love to serve this as a main course, with perhaps a green veggie, esp. asparagus. You may also ladle it over pasta, or a toasted slice of baguette. For appetizers, I like to fill small puff pastry "bowls" with the crabmeat. You'll find them in the freezer section of your grocery.
1 pound cleaned crabmeat (preferably jumbo lump)
2 to 4 tablespoons of butter (depending on how sinful you'll feel using butter)
sprinkle of chopped chives and/or fresh thyme, chopped
sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning, if you like
1. With your fingers, pick through the crabmeat and remove any pieces of cartilege you may find.
2. Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat.
3. Add crabmeat, and allow to simmer for just 2 to 4 minutes, until warmed through. Gently stir in the juice of the lemon half, the herbs and Old Bay.
4. Serve immediately.