This week our Community Supported Fishery shares will include a pound of claw crab meat. This is the meat from the claw, that is red in color and in some circles considered a lower grade of crab meat. But…not all crab meat is created equal. Most people love jumbo lump and the bigger the lumps the better! Not so fast. Big isn’t necessarily better. There was a time when backfin and claw meat were preferred at the picnic table. Let’s take a look at types of crab meat.
For a while now, some large lump crab meat you find in restaurants and on the shelf is not local. It comes from Venezuela and Indonesia. Larger crab and seafood companies have grown their business by locating an entirely different species of crab in Asian waters, the Blue Swimming Crab, that gives a large clean lump but lacks the flavor of local coastal crab. Read labels carefully. What might be named “Maryland” or “Chesapeake” crab in name will say from SE Asia or South America in the fine print.
Local Crab Meat
We are proud to feature local crab meat from Mattamuskeet Crab Company in Swan Quarter, NC. A goal of our CSF is to provide a range of flavors from the coast. We look forward to hearing your experiences with claw meat that is most definitely the real deal.
What makes North Carolina and Chesapeake blue crab different? It must survive the winter. This requires the crabs to store fat deposits that flavor the meat. The crab is marbled with this yellow fat giving the distinct flavor of brackish water. In blind taste tests about 50% of people choose the local crab even though it is not “jumbo lump”.
Now, when we get to local crabs lump crab meat is still the highest grade. You will pay the most for it and be able to use it in a range of dishes, primarily crab cakes. With that said, lump meat can be upwards of $30 a pound. Claw crab meat gives good crab flavor but it doesn’t hold up as well and can be grainy. Claw meat is great in dips, omelettes, and soups…anywhere the crab is mixed in. All that aside, if you are dying for a crab cake you can still use claw meat to put a smile on your face.
Check out our Pinterest site: Crab Recipes. In particular, there is a recipe for crab pancakes with a Hoisin sauce that can be a great way to prepare claw crab meat.
Shareholders with Core Sound Seafood love some North Carolina shrimp! Shares tomorrow will include a pound of local shrimp. We are excited for the fall shrimp season because the spring season wasn’t so great. Why? Cold winters lead to smaller shrimp population in the spring. So if this winter is as long and tough as the last you can’t count on plentiful shrimp next spring. So eat up this great fall shrimp.
Types of Shrimp
Not all shrimp are the same. Here in North Carolina we see three types of shrimp: Brown, White (Green Tails), and Pink (Spotted).
According to the NC Division of Marine Fisheries, Brown shrimp can account for almost 70% of the shrimp caught in our waters. Brown shrimp, however, are a summer shrimp. Brown shrimp are active in open waters at night. They can reach a length of 9 inches. Brown shrimp have strong flavor which lends well to stuffing, baking, and stews. Gumbo or Jambalaya anyone?
White Shrimp (Green Tails)
This is the shrimp in season now. Round here we call white shrimp Green Tails. “Tails” are a little smaller than brown shrimp, maxing out at 8 inches. About 28% of the NC shrimp harvest is from white shrimp. White shrimp prefer muddy brackish waters that give them a dose of good marshy flavor. They are known for their texture. They stand up to strong spice, soaking in the taste of what goes with it. Think boils and bbq.
Pink shrimp only account for at most 5% of our shrimp in North Carolina. Also called “spotted shrimp” they can get as big as 11 inches. They are active at night and hang out in the mud during the day. These are great for shrimp salads and shrimp cocktail.
Interested in learning more about the types of shrimp? Click on each of the shrimp names above for facts from the NOAA.
Looking for shrimp recipes? Check out our Pinterest Page: Shrimp Recipes.
Core Sound Seafood clams.
As we start the fall CSF season, its a good time to share some resources on what will be in season during these Autumn and Winter months on the North Carolina Coast. NC seafood caught locally during these seasons can include:
- Black Sea Bass
- Blue Crab
- King Mackerel
- Spanish Mackerel
- Sea Trout (Spotted and Grey)
- Striped Bass
- Yellowfin Tuna
Carteret Catch has a great PDF that lists these species and their catching methods. Download here. We will do our best to get a number of these species in our CSF share and in store this fall, but can’t guarantee what will be available. We will provide you recipes and cooking techniques for some of the lesser known species. In the comments below, tell us what you like, what you have never had, or what you are interested in trying!
King Mackerel Steaks from last season.
Our fall season for delivery of NC Seafood to the Triangle starts this Thursday, Sept. 18th. Sign up at any time for a prorated share (we only charge you for the weeks you missed). Also, anyone can order from our online store each Friday for next Thursday pick-up. We start delivery to Winston Salem and Boone on Sept. 26th.