Crab is one of Britain’s most sustainable and delicious shellfish and as such should be celebrated.
Bad crab experiences are easy to come by. You would be forgiven for thinking of crab as a flavourless seafood with an odd texture, complete with mouthfuls of gritty shell, but cooked and prepared correctly, crabs are an absolute delicacy.
As with all seafood, there are many aspects to consider before making your purchase.
Season: Crabs are available from Spring to the beginning of winter but bad weather or very hot weather can make them tricky to catch. The spawning season generally starts at the beginning of winter. Also consider delicious spider crabs which are abundant in spring but a lack of local interest means fishermen either put them back in the water or send them overseas.
Sustainable: Pot caught crab is a very low impact form of fishing. Avoid any crabs that are caught by other methods like dredge, net or beam trawl. It is also important to avoid egg bearing females to allow them to spawn and small crabs should also be avoided, luckily the capture of such animals is prohibited by fishing laws.
What crab should I buy?: Look for a large, live, male brown crab with lots of movement, preferably picked out from a tank. If you are able to, pick a few up and choose the ones which feel heaviest for their size. If they are lighter, it means they haven’t yet grown into their new shells and will produce far less meat. You can buy crab meat ready cooked and picked, but make sure it has been cooked that same day to ensure freshness.
How to eat it: In my opinion, the best and most simple way to appreciate the sweet, textured meat is a loaf of crusty brown bread, some well salted butter and a bowl of lemon mayonnaise… Oh.. and a bottle of good white wine!