Kelly's Garlic Crabs
Way better than Bum Rogers
> One dozen blue claw crabs cleaned ( see notes below ).
> Olive oil.
> 1/2 red onion finely chopped.
> 1/4 bunch parsley chopped.
> 1 head of garlic peeled and minced.
> 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
> White wine ( optional ).
> Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.
> Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and the onion.
> Stir the onion on medium heat until transparent,
> Add the garlic and parsley, turn the heat down and cover for a few minutes.
> Mix well and add the crabs, turning to coat them well.
> Add more olive oil, butter or wine as necessary.
> Cover and reduce heat to low for 2-3 minutes.
> Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, turn off heat. Cover until ready to serve.
> Serve in bowls with good bread and ice cold white wine or beer.
> Leftovers keep for a day or two and can be served over pasta, or as is.
Quite a few years ago a small kitten became trapped in a Maryland style crab trap a few streets over. I heard his cries for days before I found him. He was probably only two months old and it was a cold February and I was amazed he had survived. I got bit by him and had to get rabies shots because my dad didn't want to risk the kitten peeing in the bathroom where the cat in the trap was sitting in the bath tub until animal control could come capture him for quarantine. He made the guy take the kitten in the trap locked in the bathroom outside to put in the cage to take to quarantine and the cat not wanting any part of it made an easy escape. $2,500.00 worth of rabies shots later I had a crab trap to show for my trouble. The cat was fine and I can juggle rats for ten years if I so choose but that has nothing to do with crabs.
Kelly wanted to try the trap so we put it in Barnegat Bay near where Cantaloupe the sailboat was moored and pulled in at least a dozen or more every time we set the trap. There's almost nothing better than sitting down to a meal of crabs and they quickly became a staple last-night-at-the-beach meal before I had to head back up north. One winter day after we were out of frozen crabs we stopped at Bum Rogers in Seaside Park. Bums has always been known for two things: Serving minors at the bar and... Serving the best crabs on the island. The garlic crabs we had that day were great. That meal made the whole beach trip and Kelly was able to reproduce, and improve on, the recipe with crabs she bought from the Crab Shack on Mantoloking road on day on a whim. This recipe is that recipe.
We returned to Bums a year or two ago when the supply of crabs ran out and hoped to recreate the magic of the previous experience there. It was not to be. I would go so far as to say it sucked... Big time! The place was filthy. Everything felt greasy ( and I am far from fussy ) and sticky. Worst of all the crabs were lousy. We vowed never again and haven't since. We've been meaning to try the Seaside Crab House in the old Aztec motel on the boardwalk but... finances have been tight for longer than I care to remember. The good news is... It was a banner year for crabs so we dined on garlic crabs when Kelly came up to Connecticut for 2008 summer vacation. The Seaside Crab House says they have jumbos so we may have to splurge soon. The last time we had jumbos was at Skeeters restaurant in the Tuckerton Seaport Museum for Kelly's birthday about three years ago. Skeeters is gone now unfortunately so we need to find a new seafood eatery.
Preparing crabs for garlic crabs is easy, but may not be for the squeamish. If your crabs are fairly lethargic they can be cleaned alive. This is not as cruel as it sounds since Mr. Crabby is separated from his brain in about a second so it's as effective as the guillotine and way better than the electric chair or lethal injection. Flip the crab over and pin his ( They should all be males, throw the girls back ) claws down. Lift up the pointed hatch-like structure on the underside of the crab and pull it towards the rear of the crab. Place your thumbs on the lower and upper shells at this juncture and pull the two apart, removing the top shell from the crab in one quick motion. Remove the feathery gills and rinse out the remaining miscellaneous guts under cold water. Break the bottom shell in half leaving two pieces each with three legs, a claw and a flipper. These "clusters" are ready to go into garlic crabs or the freezer.
If you don't want to clean the crabs alive you can plunge them into boiling water to kill them and remove them immediately to clean or you can steam them. Place them crabs in as small a covered pot as will hold them. Put in a cup of cold water or wine or a 12 oz. beer. Cover the pot and turn the heat on low. The slowly increasing heat should make the crabs become drowsy and they should expire quietly. As soon as the pot starts venting steam, rinse them in cold water and clean as above. Be aware that you may hear them banging on the inside of the pot for way longer than you would like. Some times they don't go quietly.