I’ve got a brother. He lives in Las Vegas. My brother has a friend named Scott. Scott lives in Vegas. Scott is from Baton Rouge which is about 45 minutes north of New Orleans. One night, Scott and my brother had a breakthrough so profound that it altered the course of our lives. They reached that moment of enlightenment, only attained through the perseverance of consuming vast amounts of fermented barley based liquids. A moment of clarity if you will; when everything becomes clear and there is no question about the road that lies ahead. Yes, they drank enough to become…geniuses.
Finding what we need
A plan was made and carried out to obtain fresh crab. Enter me…the guy in sunny, saltwater San Diego; where the bounty of the ocean is at our fingertips, and the crabs run free for the taking! Yeah, no. Here’s the thing: We wanted fresh crab that has body meat–for that, our choices are limited. East coast Blue crab is well…on the east coast. Out here we can get Dungeness crab, but it’s on the north coast and it’s not crab season.
San Diego has rock crab, which are cool, but they only have claw and arm meat. Some Asian markets have farmed crab but no reason to bring farmed crab from San Diego. So, Scott and my brother tracked some down at an Asian market around Vegas for about $15lb. Shrimp was from Costco; frozen but still big and tasty.
We could’ve used another big pot for all the non-crab items, but other than that it went great. Everything was cooked and seasoned perfectly, and this was my first time sitting down to a whole crab, crab dinner. I love the bold Southern nature of this type of meal. The flavor of the boiling spice is complex with clove, bay, onion, garlic and chile that is “slap yo mama” spicy; all backed by a heavy hand of salt and a confident measure of MSG.
The American bounty that cascades over the table is a standard and a testament to our culture as Americans and our truly American Southern food history. After the feast there were a few crabs left, so my wife and I got after it and picked out all the meat for crab cakes the next morning. Which were by the way, the best crab cakes any of us had had…ever. After we cleaned up the tables I felt like Pig Pen…except the little dust clouds surrounding me were funky clouds of crab.
I’ve been to crawfish boils, so this wasn’t my first “boil”, but for some reason this time makes me want to do a boil here at the house. Maybe because my brother is down with it; so it’ll be a fun project/party to do. Probably without the whole crab though; keep it simple with one pot…maybe for New Years…we shall see.
Here is a pictorial timeline and a rough recipe
I think we had a 60qt pot…maybe 40.
Placed crabs in strainer basket and placed it all in the pot of cool water to measure the proper displacement. Removed crabs and brought water to a boil. Used 3 bags of Boiling spice and a cup of table salt. Would’ve added a lemon or two but we forgot. Stir it up so the spice is completely dissolved, then cover and bring back to a hard boil. Quickly add the crabs and cover. Bring back to a hard boil and boil for three minutes. Turn off heat and let the crabs sit for an hour and a half.
For the vegetables we did a separate pot with the same amount (by ratio) of boiling spice. Boiled the potatoes, carrots, garlic and onion for 15 minutes then shut it off to sit for thirty. Seperately boiled the corn for 5 minutes, then added the shrimp and turned off the heat to sit for 15.