Saturday, February 28, 2015

Delicious Denizen of the Deep

The picture above arrived via text message from Kevin Gibson of Davenport.

"Local," was the caption, though the creature pictured looked anything but. Then: "Box or shame-faced crab, bycatch of Dungeness. 2000 feet down off the Oregon coast."

What the crabbers were doing catching crab at those depths I really don't know, but looking it up on Wikipedia I found this description: "The brown box crab, Lopholithodes foraminatus, is a king crab that lives from Kodiak Island, Alaska to San Diego, California at depths of 0–547 metres (0–1,795 ft). It reaches a carapace length of 150 millimetres (5.9 in.), and feeds on bivalves and detritus. It often lies buried in the sediment, and two foramens in the chelipeds allow water into the gill chamber for respiration."

Later that afternoon I was running errands in Kevin's neighborhood and stopped in. He brought out two of the six crabs that he hadn't yet steamed, and rather than the hoary monsters I'd imagined from the photo, there were two hand-sized little guys looking rather disoriented in the bright lights of the kitchen.

Kevin noted that when he cleaned the four that had already been cooked, they only yielded about a pound of meat combined. Unlike their larger cousins, the Dungeness, whose bodies contain a great deal of meat, the bodies of the box crabs had almost none, with most of the meat concentrated in the lower legs and claws. The texture reminded me of lobster in its moist chewiness and it had a sweet, salty tang. Kevin said the plan was to feature it in a salad that evening, served simply with a squeeze of grapefruit and a few slices of avocado.

I was just happy to meet this startling new neighbor, and hope that I can acquaint myself with more of his kind in the near future.

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