When in Brittany, one must learn how to eat crab. In fact, it is likely you will need to prepare them yourself. You may even need to go out and fish them yourself since fishing is what they do here.
I kept calling it a « tortue » for the longest time (which is French for turtle and just has the vowels flipped), thinking I was actually eating the strangest turtle known to man. I couldn’t quite explain the pinchers.
This post is likely to gross you out. An utter gore-fest.
A horror movie of sorts, right in your very own kitchen.
ereee ereee ereee ereee
And if there is still one reader at the end, it says a lot for your stamina. (Or you’re a spam robot).
The kids were quite impressed though
(and admittedly, so was I, over here on the other side of the lens).
But apparently crabs don’t move fast or pinch fast, unlike the more fiesty lobsters. Watch out if the elastic comes off one of those claws.
You’re supposed to cook the crabs in sea water, but we were too lazy to go get it, so we added loads of salt. And some rosemary we found on the side of the road. And … a bay leaf, I think.
When the water is boiling, you … pause for a moment of silence (yes, I feel guilty taking a life, even that of a crab) …
before plunging the creature in quickly to minimize … well, to minimize anything.
And, once the water is brought back to a boil you cook it for 20 minutes.
Crab tastes good with mayonnaise and in France we make our own. (When we get together with all the in-laws, everyone fights as to who gets to make the meal. Except my husband, who doesn’t like to fight). Two of my brother-in-laws prepared the crabs and the mayonnaise.
For the mayonnaise, you take 2 egg yolks (or more or less) and one spoonful of dijon mustard the same size as each yolk – equal yolk and mustard. You add some salt and pepper and you stir, and stir.
And stir and stir.
And then you add oil (this is a mix of olive and canola) and you stir and stir. You add a thin stream of oil as you’re stirring and the mixture should start to thicken and look mayonnaise-y. In French you call it “monter la mayonnaise,” which means to raise the mayonnaise. You also use that expression when someone starts to lay it on thick. Like a kid throwing a tantrum for chocolate, for instance. Or me throwing a tantrum for chocolate, for another instance.
Et voila. This goes in the fridge.
Now you need to prepare the crabs. You can’t just hand it to people as is and you’ll see why in a minute.
First remove the legs.
(If it has 8 legs, is it a sea spider or a sea insect?)
Then remove the tail.
Then remove the jaws. Or mandible. Or whatever. It’s like the key to a puzzle; you can’t pull out the body without first removing the jaws.
And then stick your thumb up it’s butt (sooooooooorry)
This alien looking creature is what’s inside.
Let’s first see if it’s a female and remove the “corail,” the eggs. The crab caviar. That’s the best part. Remove it from the membrane.
The rest of the shell contains membrane, blood and caca. Dispose.
Actually in restaurants, they will wash out the inside and place the part you eat inside of it in the way of presentation. It is really useful to know what the heck to do with the thing when you’re in a nice restaurant.
Then again, perhaps you had better order something simple like pasta.
Or then again – something cleaner, like boneless chicken and mashed potatoes.
Okay, once you’ve disposed of the shell, remove these alien things that are actually the lungs.
And the crab is prepared.
And your hands and surface look like this.
Aren’t you glad you prepared the crabs in advance? My brother-in-law insisted I take an active part so I would become a true Breton, but I think he just wanted a beer.
Here are all the crabs prepared with the bodies and corail on one tray
and the legs and claws on another. That way everything is evenly distributed and there will be no fights… not that five strapping sons fight about who gets more food or anything.
When you sit down to eat, all you need is bread. Because when you get done working your way through every nook and cranny and dipping the hidden treasures in mayonnaise, you will not even be able to stuff in one more bite. And when you think that the entire contents of the crab only equals about one cup of flesh and that’s all you had for dinner, you will be quite pleased at your austerity.
That is, until you remember the mayonnaise.
As a sort of final word on the crab, I’m sure you all know what to do with the legs and claws. The legs you crack (or bite) and pull the meat out, and the claws you crack and … pull the meat out. It’s rocket science.
However, the body might be more complicated, so here’s what you do. You cut it in four pieces with a knife and pull the meat out. There’s not much though – you have to work for it, and that takes the better part of the meal, leaving all sorts of time for quizzing, jests and ribaldry.
I would do some wonderful closing shots, poor light notwithstanding, but I’m busy eating.
And my hands are dirty.
(My new tagline should read “A Lady in France: turning people to vegetarianism everywhere“).