Buying Stone Crab Claws
Buying stone crab claws when you are a local can be an adventure, it seems like everyone has a special “guy” they buy from, including my husband. His “guy” is actually a girl, who pulls up her truck up in front of a local farm stand loaded down with stone crab and Florida shrimp. He wouldn’t even let me take pictures because he is worried that to many people already know about her. He might have a point as we did wait 30 minutes in the rain to get our 5 pounds. The advantage of having a “guy” is the crab runs about $16/lbs and comes straight from the processor that morning. Disadvantage is the stone crab claws are not sorted by size so you will get everything from bite size to large in the mix.
When is stone crab season?
The season runs from October to May and sportsmen that want to trap crab must register with Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. The crabs are prized for the meat in their large claw. When caught Stone Crabs are removed from the traps and just one large claw is taken, and the live crab is returned to the ocean. A new claw will regrow. The stone crabs are found on both the Atlantic and Gulf coast of Florida, the harvesting of claws is tightly regulated by Florida Fish and Game service to help protect the tasty crabs for future generations. For years there has been talk of farm raising stone crabs, but I don’t think a commercial farm is up and running yet.
What to serve with stone crab?
Stone crab is like a nice steak, keep it simple. In my family we serve stone crab the old school Miami way: nice and cold with the simple mustard sauce made famous at Joe’s Stone Crab. Keeping with the steakhouse tradition I like a blue cheese wedge salad and some crusty bread. Then I bring out the main event: a huge pile of the cold claws. To drink with your stone crab, enjoy some good champagne or a cold crisp vodka martini. I finish the meal with a decadent desert like flourless chocolate cake or home-made carrot cake. Beyond the menu you need to set you guests up for stone crab success. Set out good heavy-duty lobster/crab crackers, empty bowls for the discarded shells and oversize heavy weight cotton napkins (it can get messy).
How to cook stone crab claws?
You don’t! All commercially available stone crab is steamed as soon as possible after it is harvested. The only people cooking stone crab are people catching their own. You will want to pre crack the claws for you guests. I highly recommend that you crack them a few hours before you plan to serve them then put them back in the fridge and let the excess water drain off, it makes eating the claws much less messy. For years I have seen people use either a mallet or lobster cracker to crack stone crab but one day I was at a sushi restaurant and watched a chef use the back side of his knife to whack each knuckle and then the claw. It was life altering and so much easier. If needed give your claws a rinse then place on your cutting board and crack away. I like to only crack about 75% of the way, leaving the shell on to protect the meat until served.
Stone Crab Mustard Sauce
Dry mustard based sauce that is prefect to dip stone crab claws into.
- 1 tsp Worcestershire
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- Juice of half a lemon
- dash A1 Steak Sauce or your favorite hot sauce
- 1/4 cup whipping cream more or less to adjust the consistency
- salt to taste
Mix all the ingredients together and let rest in the fridge
for a few hours before you serve with the cold stone crab claws. Taste before
serving and adjust to your personal preference. Joe’s Stone crab has long
provided their recipe for mustard sauce and my version is almost identical, you
can’t mess with perfection.
About Joe’s Stone Crab
Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant in Miami is an institution, about one third of all the commercially harvested stone crab is sold in their restaurants. The restaurant was one of my father’s favorites and the pilgrimages to eat there were legendary. It’s the kind of place that still has waiters in tuxedos and you feel like Frank and the Rat Pack should be walking in any minute. The company owns not only multiply locations across the United States but has its own stone crab processing plant located near Miami. This story about one of the few female waiters at Joe’s is a fun look behind the scenes.