Karen’s haul of crabs

Today is National Crab Day, also called National Crabmeat Day. I love crabmeat and I guess there are many crabmeat lovers like me as 1.5 million tons of crab is consumed every year around the world. I love crabmeat broiled, baked, stuffed, as a topping for fish, boiled as a dip, in crabcakes or in soups and chowders. One of my favorite ways to enjoy it is just steamed or broiled and dipped in a garlic wine butter — the list can go on and on. We are lucky because now we can enjoy crab legs year-round. Some of those that are most popular are the local blue crab, the hard to crack stone crab, Dungeness, king and snow crabs.

When I was the after school YiaYia, grandmother, nanny, etc. for two of our granddaughters, I would often surprise them with an after-school snack of crab clusters dipped in melted garlic butter with a piece of crusty bread to dip in the garlicky sauce. Yes, it was and still is my job to spoil the grandkids.

When family and friends from up north come to visit, I like to share our local blue crabs with them. These beautiful crabs are plentiful and are fun to catch, clean, crack, pick, dip and eat. What I don’t understand is when they do come to visit us here in Kingwood, just an hour from the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, and they ask to go to a restaurant to get “all you can eat” crab legs! Ha … Have you ever seen our local blue crabs? And their legs? Yes, they are about 2-3 inches long. King crab legs and crab leg clusters can be bought here but I will let you in on a little secret … Those variety of crabs don’t live or migrate here! King crab legs and snow crab clusters are flown into Texas. For example, the Alaskan king crabs, with legs that can grow to up to 6 feet, are caught in the Bering Strait, between the U.S.A. and Russia. There are three types of king crabs: red, blue and golden. A good tip to know is that the red king crab is said to have the best flavor.

Now, the snow crab clusters are sold as legs from half of the crab and part of the body portion attached. They weigh between 2-4 pounds, are smaller, have softer shells and a sweeter, milder flavor than king crab. They can be found from the Arctic Ocean to Greenland, in the Atlantic and in the Pacific, as well as the Sea of Japan, the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, Norton Sound, and even California. And, yes, even in Texas, but in Texas only in grocery stores or fish markets.

A tip from me to remember is this rule of thumb: If you are having a fun crab fest party or dinner, go with about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds per person. But if you have guests who are avid crabmeat lovers like we do, I would bump that up 2 1/2 pounds per person and remember that weight includes the shell.

Why not run out to the store today and get some fresh or frozen crabmeat or legs and celebrate crabmeat day by making one of the following recipes? “Please join our table” as I share with you one or two of my tried-and-true recipes.

Easy Thai Corn and Crab Soup

This is a pretty easy soup to make. I added the umami seasoning in 2021, as I can find it now at H-E-B and other local grocery stores. If you can’t find it, just soak and pulverize a few dried mushrooms and use that!

INGREDIENTS

1 16-ounce bag frozen corn kernels, thawed or use fresh, corn on the cob, remove and save the kernels and the *cobs

5 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth, divided

1/4 cup grapeseed or any vegetable oil (I do not use canola oil, ever.)

1 red bell pepper, cut into very thin strips

1 green bell pepper. cut into very thin strips

1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped

8 scallions, sliced on the bias (hold the onions at a slight angle to the knife and slice)

2 tablespoon reduced-sodium fish sauce

1 pound crabmeat, fresh or canned (be sure to pick over fresh to remove cartilage or shells)

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, no stems

1/4 cup chopped fresh Asian basil (it is the spicy peppery type – if unavailable, use Italian basil)

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper or red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon umami seasoning

Asian upon noodles or noodles of choice

DIRECTIONS: Place 1 1/4 cups of corn and 1 1/2 cups of broth in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth, set aside. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and jalapeño and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add scallions (reserving 1/4 cup) and cook 3 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add fish sauce, umami seasoning, ground red pepper, reserved corn-broth mixture, remaining corn kernels and *cobs, and remaining broth. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until thickened. Remove corncobs, add noodles. Stir in crab, being careful not to break it up very much. Ladle into individual bowls and pass Tabasco, cilantro, basil and remaining scallions for toppings. For more heat, top with sliced fresh jalapeños, too. Also, how about adding a slice or two of avocado on top! If you want a beautiful presentation, take a small jar of pimento peppers and blend till smooth. Drizzle this on top of each individual bowl and add a cooked crab claw just before serving! WOW! Serves 4.

*I always save corn cobs to use with this soup so that if needed I have the cobs to help thicken it.

My Crab Artichoke Spinach Dip

This was one of the dishes served at our Kingwood Wine Group in 2003. I was given the recipe, I tweaked it and here is my version of a crab spinach dip. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup Dukes Mayonnaise (not low fat)

1/2 cup garlic cheese spread (any brand) or soft goat cheese with herbs

2 6-ounce cans crab meat, well drained or 1 1/2 cups fresh, picked over to remove shell pieces

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese, or cheese of choice

1 6-ounce jar marinated artichokes, drained and chopped

1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and pressed to remove liquid

1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped

2 scallions, sliced with greens

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco

1/2 teaspoon Greek seasonings

1/2 teaspoon curry powder and 1/4 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

DIRECTIONS: Mix together mayonnaise, and cheese spread. Add artichokes, spinach, onions and jalapeño. Mix in Tabasco, Greek seasonings, 1/2 teaspoon curry powder and pepper. Blend in 1/2 cup cheese. Pour into a 2-quart baking dish. Top with remaining cheese, sprinkle remaining curry on cheese. Bake covered in microwave for 10 minutes at level 7 or in conventional oven at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with crackers.

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for Amana.in studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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