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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Boiled Crabs



Time yet again to talk about food.
Crabs this time!
I wanted to title this post “I Had Crabs” since I’ve already “had head” in a previous post but decided against it. Too tacky I guess.
Between the months of October and January, the fishermen of Tartous and Arwad net tons and tons of salt water crabs. In general, crabs are not on the top of the list of Syrian cuisine. But real Tartoussis always consumed these side-walking crustaceans with passion. Besides, they are cheap this time of the year (about $2.00 per kilo).
To get a good lot of crabs one needs to wake up either early and go to the fish market or have somebody on the inside to reserve it. A lot, or one fisherman’s harvest, weighs in at six to seven kilos minimum during this period. It’s very difficult to go wrong with the quality and size in the fall. The crabs are at their best. One thing the buyer should take very seriously though is that they should be fresh, real fresh, alive that this.
Preparation is straight forward and simple. The easiest way by far is having them boiled and eaten immediately afterward. Just follow these simple steps:
1-Place the crabs in a large enough pot and wash them with running water (they should be moving at this time and not dead).
2-Cover the crabs with enough water, add plenty of salt, pepper, a couple of cinnamon sticks and a large onion.
3-Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. 30 minutes of boiling should be just about right.
4-Drain all remaining water and place in a shallow pan.
The next step is optional but makes the crabs easier to eat.
5-Preheat the oven and place the pan inside for 10 minutes. This will help reduce the amount of water trapped inside the shells and makes eating them tidier.
That’s it, really simple.


For the uninitiated, eating them is a little bit more difficult, but I find it incredibly ridiculous to explain how to eat crabs. Suffice it to say that the meat inside the large pinchers is delicious and so are the shoulders (inside the shell where the pinchers meet the body).
A beer or a glass of wine makes the meal a joyful experience. Eat as much as you want, boiled crabs are not very filling. My friend, the one I posted about last time (3 Love Songs) tells me that they are a great aphrodisiac and I have no reason to doubt him at all.

10 comments:

Yazan said...

yummy...

na3eeman the blog's new look..

abufares said...

Yazan
Allah Yen3am 3layk
3a2bal 7amman al 3eres...

I love Munich said...

You are making me drool ... they look so incredibly appetizing!!! I love to eat everything from the sea - except these slimy oysters (YUCK!) - and most certainly LOVE crabs!! Only $2.00 per kilo?? Here you can pretty much add a "0"!
GREAT post dear friend .. as always and that I got hungry now - is YOUR fault!! ;-)

Rime said...

Now now, Abufares, how can your nice friend from the last post, who shared with us (through you of course) the most beautiful of stories in the most beautiful way, touching us all, be the same person who boils a poor little animal alive just because, how shall we put it, it positively affects his romantic sessions? Ya haram, it is too cruel a death to enable food enjoyment, don't you think?

(That said, I admit that the few times I've eaten lobster or crab I've found them very good. But like a child, I will only come near it when it's safely removed from the scary shells!)

abufares said...

Hi Karin
I love seafood in general. But, I prefer crabs, shrimps, oysters and lobsters over fish.
We do have crabs year round but autumn is their season. Crabs are harvested as a biproduct to fish. The nets intended to catch fish come out filled with them. All seafood is best consumed fresh but in the case of crabs they really have to be sold early in the morning.
Thank you for dropping by.

abufares said...

Hi Rime
So nice of you to drop by.
Although I agree with you on the cruelty of preparing crabs and lobsters I'm afraid that there's nothing that can be done about it. If I were to extend this line of reasoning then eating all animal life is cruel in a way. I don't know whether I should feel guilty eating a live cucumber or apple. After all, they might feel my bites and suffer from waves of pain before they finally die in acid.
Then again, I'm fascinated by the way a leopard catches a gazelle then breaks its neck and starts feasting. Is it cruel really or is it simply the way it was meant to be?
I have no answer...

Dubai Jazz said...

As always, a very interesting and informative post.
On a side note, a British report, which was published roundabout two weeks ago, has suggested that by 2048 the marine life in the world's ocean will collapse, if we don't adopt tougher measures to stop extensive fishing. I wonder if this is an impending danger for our sea shores also, but then it is very hard for me to tell....
In the mean time I, and I am sure you also Abu Fares, will continue to go for the mixed surf-n'-turf menu....
P.S: your friend is quite right, I have a friend myself who has made good use of the crabs big time! :)

abufares said...

Hi Dubai Jazz
The marine life in the entire Mediterranean basin and specifically on the Eastern coast has gone down the drain. The situation is getting worse with the passage of the years. In addition to polution, large scale fishing (commercial fleets) absent in Syria and Lebanon but the norm in "Israel" & Turkey mean that there's less and less fish reaching our waters.
I'm sure the report is on the spot. When I was a kid, all I had to do was manage to get a rod of any kind, a nylon line, a hook and a bait of dough. Within an hour at the most I would have fished enough for dinner. Now, NO WAY!
As for our frinds, you and I, they are something aren't they!

Ascribo said...

I seem to have lost contact for a very long period this time..I feel out of reality!

Last time I was in Tartous, I tried to get a "lot" of Crabs. Unfortunately, no poor Crabs were caught at fishermen nets that specific morning...

Although I've always found Crabs tasty and appealing, but I have to admit that I feel guilty every time I eat them. This is NOT because the way they're prepared (Boiled Alive!), but rather because the way they're RAKED.

The prefered way of catching Crabs as a biproduct is by using a kind of "Bulldozer" nets. These stuff are long, heavy nets that reach the bottom and catch Crabs along with shrimps and lobsters. As they do so, they destroy thousands of millions of fish eggs and small fish. This ruins thousands of fish-to-be, which is bad enough...This is one of extensive fishing methods that caused our marine life to drain.

Anyway, let's forget about the Future of Marine life, as we do for everthing else, and try to enjoy the delicious Crabs meal!

Waiting for more food...

abufares said...

Hi Ascribo
Welcome back
next time you come to Tartous, get your ass out of bed early and head to the Sahet Al Samak and buy some crabs.
Enjoy it.