Sunday, 19 July 2015

Scylla Serrata - a crustacean like no other

In terms of flavour, a thick, fresh, South Australian scallop fried in butter sits on top of my "favourite seafood to eat" list. But there are reasons why I think mud crabs (Scylla Serrata) beat out the wonderful SA scallop for overall enjoyment.

For starters, what's not to like about the look of these animals?

If I wasn't dead, I would totally mess you up right now.
Part alien, part vicious, angry killer, these body-builders of the sea could easily take off a finger or toe if you're silly enough to leave them dangling near those nippers.

My father in law recently returned from a stint 'down south' where a nice person gave him their liver to replace his cancerous one. A few months waiting for a liver plus another 3-4 recovering, one of the first things he wanted to do upon coming home was go crabbing.
the fish didn't co-operate that day, but a few mid-sized crabs did
And who could blame him, these animals, when caught at the right time in their 'moulting' cycle are big and full of sweet, rich flesh that makes a blue swimmer crab look like a puny, tasteless waste of time.
a boy and a girl. Not big specimens, but tasty all the same.
The crabs are caught in large wire pots, and we use chicken carcasses soaked in tuna oil for bait. Euthanised by placing in the freezer for half an hour or so, no one with a brain throws them alive into a pot of boiling water anymore.
what they look like inside, before taking the 'feathers' and guts out.
Depending on what you're going to use them for, the body parts are kept fresh and uncooked or boiled in salt water for roughly 15 minutes, like this one:
cooked and ready to crack open for the goodies inside.
My brother in law tells a good story about a day out fishing - he and his cousin had been observing another man checking crab pots. Upon finding a big, fresh mud crab in the pot, he simply look disappointed and tipped the animal back in to the water and resetting it, for what, they had no idea. After watching this going on for quite a while, curiosity got to them and they asked "why are you not keeping the big muddies you've been catching?"

He replied "they're not the type I'm after. I don't want the brown ones, I want the ones with the orange-coloured shell".

Going by the pictures above, I won't bother explaining the idiocy.

Like a lot of well-known dishes, Singapore chilli crab has many different recipes. We use a variant of this one, but I don't think any version is what you'd call 'low carb'.
Sugar aplenty. The rest of the book is clean.
finger licking awesomeness
 The boiled crab was used for a more typical LCHF meal - brekkie the previous morning.
eggs, bacon, black pudding and crab with chilli and onion
From the moment you pull the pot from the water and see the big, brown, beautiful crab staring back at you - to the moment you put the rich, delicious flesh in your mouth, I think the mud crab provides enjoyment like no other animal from the sea.

If you ever get the chance to indulge, I certainly encourage you to do so.

4 comments:

  1. Handsome and plump looking creatures! You're making me drool, again.

    I used to love raking for crabs up at Pt Clinton on gulf St Vincent. At the risk of sounding like a proper old codger, when I was a lad the poor folk round these parts ate gigantic fresh crayfish (lobster) frequently. Now that it has turned into a high value export we only fork out for it once a year.

    C.

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  2. What a great post Chips. I took up fishing when I became old and a hand problem stopped me playing golf after 50 years. The very best to your Father in law, may he enjoy many years doing his fishing.

    Eddie

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