Saturday, September 12, 2009

Gettin' All Crabby

My pal (and GSNW contributor) Laurie was regaling us with her latest adventure, a trip to the coast to go crabbing. I asked her if she'd write it up, and she graciously agreed to share once again.

This past summer, I partook in crabbing for the first time, which is more fun than a barrel of, well, crabs. I was a rookie crabber, but I was with a crew of seasoned amateurs who had done it before. We headed to Netarts and hit Big Spruce RV Park and Boat Rental, where you can rent a nifty little aluminum boat and crab cages complete with bait (frozen raw chicken and raw fish). You also get a special crab “ruler” which helps you determine which crabs are large enough to keep.

Crabbing is pleasantly straightforward in a physical sort of way: First, you fasten slimy frozen bait to the bottom of the cages, putt around the bay, hurl the cages overboard at staggered intervals and let them sit for about 20 minutes. Then you pull the cages back in.

And that’s when the real fun begins.

Several squirming, snapping crustaceans had clambered into the netted cages, and much squealing and swearing ensued as we tried to measure the “keepers”—large males—and toss back females and small ones, all the while trying not to getting pinched by agitated crabs hanging onto the cages for dear life. We found ourselves swinging between the thrill of the hunt and feeling bad for the little critters. At one point, I asked a fellow crew member (who happened to be a doctor) if crabs had feelings. She paused, then answered. “Well, I think it’s more like they have sensations." Somehow, this made us all feel a better, as if we weren’t causing them any “real" pain.

After our exhilarating expedition, we headed back to land with our haul, where the friendly and helpful folks at Big Spruce cleaned our crabs, explained the difference between Dungeness and Rock crabs, then sent us happily on our way with our catch.

Curried Corn Crab Cakes
Adapted from Cooking Light

Laurie's friend Peggy, who is "a seriously good cook," according to Laurie, made these crab cakes the next night.

3/4 c. fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
1/4 c. diced red bell pepper
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lb. lump crabmeat, shells removed
1/3 c. mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 large egg whites
10 Tbsp. dry breadcrumbs, divided
4 tsp. vegetable oil
Lime wedges

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add first 5 ingredients; saute 4 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Place mixture in a large bowl; cool completely. Stir in crabmeat; set aside.

Combine mayonnaise and the next 5 ingredients (mayonnaise through egg whites) in a small bowl. Gently fold mayonnaise mixture into crab mixture. Stir in 7 tablespoons breadcrumbs. Divide mixture into 8 (3/4-inch-thick) patties. Dredge patties in 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs.
Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Place patties in pan; cook 4 minutes. Turn patties, and cover pan; cook 4 minutes or until done. Serve with lime wedges.

Details: Big Spruce RV Park, 4850 Netarts Hwy. West, Tillamook. Phone 503-842-7443.

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