If you’ve ever eaten a whole crab or lobster, you know that there is some work involved. Cracking through the hard shell to get to the sweet, tender meat beneath adds to the overall satisfaction of the experience. Not to mention the dapper plastic bibs that you often get to keep seafood water off your shirt.
Until yesterday, I never had the experience of catching, cooking, and preparing my crustacean all in a matter of hours. Catching blue crabs here in South Carolina is a simple enough process: tie a piece of chicken to the end of a line with a sinker, throw it into a tidal creek, wait a few minutes, and gingerly pull it back to the waiting net. If you’re lucky there will be a crab attached to the chicken, munching away and holding tight. If you’re really lucky, the blue crab will be large enough to keep (at least 5 inches, from point to point).
Rebecca and I went out early in the morning with some friends with much more fishing know-how than we have and, in the course of four hours, managed to net seven keepers.
On arriving home, we watched several youtube videos about how to humanely kill a crab before boiling, how long to cook the crabs, and how to remove – or “pick” – the meat from the inside of the shell. Picking a crab efficiently takes practice and, being new to the process, it took us some time to pick the seven crabs that we caught.
Once picked, we chose this recipe for hot crab dip with pita chips. There are so many to choose from, many featuring cream cheese and horseradish. Rebecca is not a fan of horseradish, and I wanted to branch out from a cream cheese based dip. When I found this one, I was excited about a couple of things:
- Rather than a bland cream cheese base, this recipe uses a richly flavored roux that is thickened with cream. Garlic, shallots, and red peppers are simmered in butter and olive oil before the flour and cream are added to create the roux.
- The mix of flavors: the celery salt and lemon juice, the worcestershire sauce and cream, the garlic and parmesan. The dip is simple to make and is really delicious. We both loved how the lemon juice and zest really pop when you take a bite.
- It doesn’t take a lot of crab meat to complete (our seven crabs had just the right amount).