Lump crab is the extra large portions of meat that come out of a crab body. There are still other designations in Texas. Like extra large, lump crab. These come out of the main part of the body and there are very few of those areas on a blue crab. I've had extra large lump crab bigger than my knuckles. It's the sweetest and mildest part of the crab. We use those only for cocktails and also for crab cakes.
My crab cakes are about 98% extra large lump crab and 2% other stuff. You must be extremely careful not to break it up while mixing or forming the cakes.
Other part of the crab is the back fin meat. Also the claw meat. I use these in cooked dishes like devil crab, or crab stuffing or in gumbos and soups like she crab soup etc.
The other thing to look CAREFULLY for is on the carton there will be a designation called "Pasteurized". If you read ANYWHERE on the label that it's pasteurized, then my opinion is...don't buy it. But second to that, don't pay the price for lump or extra large lump cuz it will taste like bull hockey. If it's pasteurized it's only worth using in a cooked dish with lots of spice which kinda defeats the purpose of using delicate tasting lump crab.
I don't buy "pateurized" seafood,nor do I buy seafood in supermarkets. The concept seems so strange to me. It's bad enough that I mostly have to buy pasteurized cheese and other dairy products <sigh> Another pet peeve of mine.
If you remove the top sell from a crab and clean out the entrails and stuff and then cut in in half so you can view a cross-section, what you'll see are a series of tubular compartpents containing the flesh.
Those towards the back, near the swim fins, are small, and the meat is kind of broken up looking before you even remove it. That's the backfin meat. No matter how small a pick you use, it's almost impossible to recover that meat in one piece.
As you move forward, the compartments get larger and the meat more cohesive. That's the lump. Extra large lump comes only from the very frontmost compartments, and the size of the piece determines if you can use that classification. Extra large lump is actually more prevelant now than it used to be because there's a minimum size on crabs, and, overall, larger ones are being harvested.
Claw meat, obviously, comes from the claws, and is considered by most crab fanciers to be more grainy. As Blue Zebra notes, it's usually used only in cooked dishes. But not always. Some folks think a bowl of melted butter and a bowl full of crab claws is the cat's meow. And the claw meat makes a nice accent piece in soups and chowders.
I think the objection to pastueurized crab is more theoretical than real. All crab you buy---whether "fresh" "pasteurized" or in cans or pouches already is cooked. Pasteurization just gives it a longer shelf life. And, for anyone who lives inland, that's pretty much the only way it's available.
Around these parts fresh crab is readily available, so I guess we're lucky. By fresh I mean live. A few of the fish mongers here will sell cooked crab, but they cook it themselves, and it's very fresh. I'm sure they don't pasteurize it. I only recently discovered that crab meat can be bought in cans. Never heard of crab in pouches.
KY - Just an addition to your very thorough post. Maybe it's just in Houston, who knows...but there really is a difference between regular cooked crab and pasteurized even though they seem to mean the same thing.
Definite agreement that all crab you buy comes cooked. I've had this discussion over at the Epi site and here's my experience going back to earliest memories as a little girl. I can remember going down to the docks to buy crab, fish and shrimp as a 3 year old. *blush* lotta years there. That puts us during the '60s.
We would buy shrimp off the boats and they would give us the crab for free back then. But you could also buy picked crab that was just processed that day and picked by a group of very knowledgeable old women. These were sold in plain white containers with a big crab printed on the lid. They came in pints and this was the "gold". The extra large lump. You could also buy back fin meat and the claw meat (picked, that's the kind I was saying you use in dishes) and there was also the claws that could be bought to dip in butter. Good stuff! This was only crab without any preservatives. Maybe it's the preservatives I'm talking bout? Dunno. Tasted so fresh and sweet and no funny aftertaste or strong fishy/crabby taste about it.
I can still get crab packaged like that to this day both down at the coast and also at my fish market. It's still awesome and tastes just as I remember it from girlhood. I don't buy crab in super markets. It's also VERY expensive these days. Even in Houston with Kemah and the fleet just down the road a piece.
The last time I tried buying it at the big HEB "super store galore", I got the stuff in a little vacuum sealed pint that said what it was and listed Pasteurized on it. It was nasty in a can. Tasted like canned crab meat which I would only use in something like a deviled crab (something with lots of bread and tons of veg and spice to cover up the fishy taste of it).
I tried using this stuff in my crab cakes and they were just awful. Still expensive. Still cooked. But tasted like strong frozen crab and tasted of preservatives. It was inedible.
So as a Southern Texas Coaster who spent much of my time on the coast fishin', crabin' and hunting, I'm a crab snob and there is most certainly a difference between the two methods of Pasteurizing or cooking crab. Come on down and I will show you the difference in the two then put a blindfold on you and do a blind tasting hahaha!
I kinda disagree with most in this post......all the crab you will buy shelled is
cooked. Pastuerized is not the worst....its definitely not fresh but just fine
in cakes and cocktails....its just not as good as fresh....Jumbo lump is what we refer to the biggest chunks from the body....followed by lump which is the same, but not intact lumps all the time....then backfin, which is a combination of a little of everything.....truly though....I have had pastuerized that was better than some fresh....but the absolute best has always been fresh whole blue crabs, cooked, dumped on a table outside, and shared with friends.....Cold Beer and Lemon chess pie....
I grew up in Maryland and had a lot of blue crab. When I was in the Navy in Norfolk, we caught our own and cooked them. Very tasty, but you could sit down to a tablefull of them (served on a newspaper) and starve to death while you picked out the meat.
When I lived on Puget Sound in Seattle, we caught the Dungeness crabs in our (underwater) front yard and had great crab feasts on winter nights. They may be tasteless by the time they get to Kentucky, but on the West Coast they are certainly not. They are the best seafood you can find, and I say that after living in Boston for 12 years and eating a bunch of lobsters.
In Houston, live Dungeness are available in the Asian markets, and that's the only way to buy them. My son developed a great method to prepare them- drop them into boiling water until they quiet down, and then clean them - they're so easy to clean it's like popping the top of a beer can - and pound the shells to break them up. Make a slurry of butter, garlic, and as much cayenne as you like, and rub this through the cracked shells, and finish cooking them on the grill with some mesquite smoke. :bounce:
You can't do better than that.
We used to get live Dungeness in Oakland's Chinatown for $3 a pound. Here in Chicago they currently go for $7 to $10 - bummer.
Mike, other than disagreeing about the relative flavor of Dungeness, what misinformtion are you talking about?
BTW, Dungeness doesn't make it to Kentucky at all in any edible form. But I've caught them all over the Pacific Northwest, and stand by what I said. The only thing they bring to the party is size. But I'll take a mess of beautiful swimmers over them any day. The flavor of Dungeness is so delicate as to be non-existent IMO.
I think it's symptomatic of something that you need to flavor them up with garlic and lots of cayenne. Could that be cuz they don't have much taste of their own?
Ever had the Hairy crab that is only available in November (in Hong Kong), so sweet. You mostly eat the roe, not the meat. and the only way to buy them is live on the street tied up in a bamboo straight jacket.
passed live blues at the Asian store last sat, $3 a # or so.....they also had live in the tank small, read size of a silver dollar abalone......thought they were endangered and only certain divers on a full moon could catch one...so why are they in an edible fish tank in STL, Mo.?
just curious. figured you that know pacific shellfish may know the answer.
Actually I'm a blue crab claw fan. Lump was too mild.....lived on the Louisiana coast for years, and had alot of backyard crab or crawfish boils.....newspapers/new potatoes and all.
I was in Hong Kong / Southern China a couple of weeks ago, and there was a huge controversy brewing about counterfeit blue crabs flooding the market. Seems not all seafood is labelled properly before heading to market... Big suprise.
There's no "ban" on harvesting California abalone, just some strong restrictions, which have been in place for years. Harvesting abalone in California is managed through size limits, limits on the number of permits for commercial abalone divers, and restrictions on harvesting areas. Some areas are closed to abalone harvesting in part because abalone is an important food for sea otters, and harvesting certain abalone in certain areas (south of San Francisco, iirc, reduces the food supply to these lovely creatures, putting a strain on their population.
The Pacific Northwest and Alaska also have supp;ies of abalone.
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