Gulf Coast Flavor: Spotlight on Stone Crabs
Stone Crab 101So, what's all the hype about these local delicacies? Let us fill you in. Known for their signature sweet taste and delicate meat, stone crabs fall into two categories in this area: Gulf stone crabs and Florida stone crabs.
Gulf stone crabs can be found in all five Gulf states (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas) and are known for their giant crusher claw. The crusher claw accounts for almost half of a stone crab's weight and can easily crush an oyster, which happens to be its main source of nutrition. Gulf stone crabs are brownish-maroon in color.
Stone crab harvesting by commercial and recreational crab fishers is
done mainly by the use of baited traps. Some recreational crabbers
collect them by hand using scuba or snorkel gear. Recreational crab
fishers are limited to five traps per person and a saltwater fishing
license is required.
Florida stone crabs closely resemble the Gulf stone crab, except they have a spotted brownish-maroon colored shell which gives them a somewhat lighter appearance. And they are harvested exclusively in Florida.
Stone crab fishing is somewhat sustainable because the crabs are harvested mainly for their claws. Usually only one of the claws is removed (sometimes both if they are of legal size, but that is not encouraged) and the crab is returned back into the water. You might be thinking, aw... poor crab. But fear not crab lovers, the stone crab adapts, regenerates its lost claw, and is as good as new. They are resilient little sea creatures.
If you're interested in learning more about the recreational stone crab harvesting rules and regulations, click here.
Where To Go To Satisfy Your Stone Crab CravingYou don't have to go far for your stone crab fix here on Florida's Gulf Coast. You can find them seasonally on our area restaurant menus just about everywhere seafood is offered. Would you like some local dining recommendations? Click here.
Looking for an all-out stone crab feeding frenzy and a stone crab celebration that extends well beyond just your plate? Read on.
Stone Crab Celebrations & Festivals
As you might have noticed, stone crab season is kind of a big deal here on the Gulf Coast. In its honor, you can find some area celebrations and festivals that spotlight this regional delicacy. Here are a few of the best. Come hungry!
Keegan's Stone Crab Feast, Indian Rocks Beach
- In it's 8th year, Keegan's Seafood Grille puts on a feast for both your eyes and for your belly. Start stone crab season off right with special pricing through the weekend, live music, and more. It's IRB's best bet for a stone crab celebration you won't soon forget.
Cooters Crab Fest, Clearwater Beach
- Celebrate the kick-off of stone crab season at Cooters Restaurant & Bar. The Annual Cooters Crab Festival begins on Thursday and continues through Sunday. This four-day party includes a special Crab Fest menu featuring Florida stone crab, King crab, Snow crab and Dungeness crab at specially reduced prices. Guests also enjoy live music under the stars and fabulous drink specials.
Frenchy's Stone Crab Weekend, Clearwater Beach
- Frenchy's Stone Crab Weekend started in 1984 when owner, Michael "Frenchy" Preston, began offering his signature stone crab claws to the public for just above cost. The tradition continues annually and has become a crowd favorite. With stone crab weekend season opening on October 15, it's the perfect time of year to celebrate all things crab. The weekend event offers a two-day block party on Friday and Saturday in celebration of those tasty claws. In addition to fresh-off-the-boat Florida stone crabs, guests can enjoy live local music, food and drink specials, kid-friendly activities, raffles and so much more. Specially discounted prices continue in the four local Frenchy's restaurant locations through Sunday.
John's Pass Seafood & Music Festival, Madeira Beach
- The Annual John's Pass Seafood Festival at historic John's Pass Village and Boardwalk in Madeira Beach offers a two-and-a-half day outdoor festival that begins at noon on Friday and continues through Sunday. A local favorite, the festival features live musical entertainment, an arts and crafts show with over 60 vendors, children's activities, fireworks, haunted house, over a hundred shops, and of course, a ton of tempting local seafood. Special festival activities include the Blessing of the Fleet, Halloween Block Party, and a fireworks display.
Featured Stone Crab Recipe
Looking for a simple yet delicious way to prepare stone crabs at your home or your vacation-home-away-from-home? Try this one.
Stone Crab Claws Miami
3 pounds Florida stone crab claws
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup extra-dry vermouth
2 tablespoons Florida lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Crack claws and remove shell and movable pincer, leaving the meat attached to the remaining pincer. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add stone crab claws and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until heated through, turning claws frequently. Turn heat to high; add vermouth, lemon juice, salt and pepper to pan. Cook 1 minute more, spooning vermouth sauce over claws. Serve claws hot or cold as an appetizer or entrée.
Looking for some other delectable stone crab recipes to try? Click here.
Are you salivating for seafood yet? You know where to go! Isn't time you planned your next Florida Gulf Coast vacation anyway? See you soon!
What's your favorite way to eat or prepare stone crabs? Share with us!
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