Stone Crabs and the Florida Coast

Stone Crab with Mustard Sauce Photography by Frantz Cartright

Regina and Frantz bought Stone Crabs at the Marco Island Farmer’s Market. And you know how I love Farmer’s Markets.

I got curious about this designer claw delicacy with its black pincher tip. The highly nutritious claw meat resembles lobster in appearance and flavor— usually boiled and served in the shell.

They bought the stone crabs directly from the fisherman, who boils his catch right on the boat.  “Commercial crabbing is all about speed and efficiency because that is how the fishermen earn their living.”

Captain Ken and His Mate Sell the Catch of the Day

Stone crabs are found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts but are commercially harvested almost entirely in Florida with traps. The traps are re-baited (usually with frozen pig’s feet) every other day. Adult stone crabs are easy to recognize by their oval body and two large claws. A mark on the inside of the large claw looks like Neptune’s thumbprint.

According to some fishermen in south Florida, stone crab fishing pays if they harvest about a third of a pound of claws per trap. Only the oversized claws are harvested. Fishermen are allowed to take the claws and required to return the stone crabs safely back to the water.  The stone crab can regenerate its claws three to four times. Florida law forbids the taking of whole stone crabs.

Thanks to the courage these fishermen show in continuing their lifestyle so dependent on Mother Nature, we had a feast.

Florida Stone Crab Appetizer Photography Frantz Cartright

Stone crab claws are available cooked. They are cooked immediately after harvest to prevent the meat from sticking to the inside of the shell. Store cooked crabs and picked meat in the coldest part of your refrigerator or “meat keeper” at 32 degrees F and use within two days.

Florida Stone Crabs and Mustard Sauce* Yield: 4 servings

3 pounds Florida Stone Crab  Claws

2 tablespoons dry mustard

1 1/2 cups mayonaise

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Half and Half

Crack claws; remove shell and movable pincer leaving meat attached to the remaining pincer. Set aside.

Combine mustard, mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce; blend slowly for 3 minutes. Add small amounts of half and half until mixture has a creamy consistency.

Serve claws with mustard sauce on the side.

Sauce can be refrigerated up to 5 days.

Nutritional Value Per Serving.

4 ounces of edible meat only 60 calories.   Calories  from fat 0.

This was the shocker for me!*

It’s in the sauce!

4 medium claws with mustard sauce*—Calories 668, Calories From Fat 598.

Look at the difference…again.

“Stone Crab Claws MIAMI”* Yield: 8 appetizers or 4 entrées
3 pounds Florida Stone Crabs

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup extra-dry Vermouth

2 tablespoons Florida lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

Preparation Crack claws and remove shell and movable pincer, leaving the meat attached to the remaining pincer.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add stone crab claws and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until heated through, turning claws frequently. Turn heat to high; add vermouth, lemon juice, salt and pepper to pan. Cook 1 minute more, spooning vermouth sauce over claws. Serve claws hot or cold as an appetizer or entrée.

Nutritional Value Per Serving*

(4 medium claws) Calories 205, Calories From Fat 121

Freezing Stone Crabs: Stone crab claws that are completely intact (occasionally claws crack during handling) can be frozen at 0 degrees F for up to six months. Thaw frozen stone crab claws in the refrigerator for 12 to 18 hours. If thawed under running water quality will be lost.

*Recipes and nutritional Information courtesy of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.


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