So, the most wonderful time of the year in South Florida is upon us! No, not the December Holidays, but the October to May season of Stone Crabs, those lovely, sweet-fleshed crustaceans that cost a fortune. Joe Weiss, of Joe’s Stone Crab, was the person in Miami Beach who discovered that stone crabs were not only edible, but most delectable when served chilled with Joe’s Mustard Sauce. Joe’s Stone Crab was, and still is, the place to eat when you visit Miami.
Stone Crabs are one of the few things I feel gluttonous about. It’s their texture, flavor and succulence.”Craig Claiborne, famed cooking writer.
John and Kelley used to have stone crab traps in the water in the Keys, but it’s a labor-intensive process and it pained me to watch the claws being broken off, so now we get our stone crabs at Key Largo Fisheries. Key Largo Fisheries began when fishermen would pull up to the docks to sell their seafood to the Pilot House. Sometimes, the Pilot House had purchased their fill, so Key Largo Fisheries opened, first as a market, later as a restaurant. It is the place where locals go to buy fresh seafood. In Miami, I prefer Golden Rule Seafood.
There are four different sizes of stone crabs (up from the original three)- Medium, Large, Jumbo and Colossal, at the respective prices of $34, $46, $61 and $75 per pound currently, at Key Largo Fisheries. We prefer Large. Prices have jumped this year, as the season itself has shortened from October 15th to May 1st (it used to run until May 15th). If you are going to eat your stone crabs that day, ask for them to be cracked. Otherwise, you can keep them for a few days in the refrigerator until you crack them. You can do this with a wooden mallet or a hammer.
If you buy Stone Crabs at the very beginning or end of the season, you may be getting frozen claws (a sacrilege!) You can tell they are frozen if they stick to the shell. If fresh, they will pull away from the shell easily and intact.
Stone Crabs are best served with a Mustard Sauce. Most seafood markets sell this, but it’s easy enough to make at home. My husband Zeke used to work at a Seafood Market as a manager when he was in college; he usually makes the mustard sauce as he did then, by making a slurry of Colman’s Dry Mustard (it has to be Colman’s) and water, which he then stirs together with mayonnaise (Hellman’s preferred).
Being an old-school gal myself, I prefer Joe’s Mustard Sauce and always have the makings for it in our fridge in the Keys. I’m happy as a clam with just this sauce for the stone crabs, but some people (like my husband) also like melted butter to accompany these colorful beauties. I found this cute shrimp cocktail container to put it in and keep it cold.
Joe’s Mustard SauceCourse: SauceCuisine: MiamiDifficulty: Easy
The Classic Stone Crab sauce served at Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant.
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon Colmans dry mustard
1 cup of mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon A-1 sauce
2 tablespoons each heavy cream and milk
- Place mustard in a mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise and beat for 1 minute.
- Add the Worcestershire, A-1, cream and a pinch of salt and beat until the mixture is well blended and creamy. If you’d like a little more mustardy bite, whisk in about 1/2 teaspoon more dry mustard until well blended.
- Chill the sauce, covered, until serving.
- If you don’t have cream, you can substitute milk. Throw this sauce away after you use it for the Stone Crabs.
- The recipe suggests using an electric mixer. I feel a whisk works just fine.
I was going to write about Joe’s Grilled Stuffed Tomatoes, but I got carried away with Stone Crab facts. I will save it for another posting!
Up Next: Empower Farms