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Crab Imperialist


JPW
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I thought this was common knowledge, that Phillips and the other big outfits use SE Aisan crab? Was this really a revelation to anyone here?

The packaging issue is a different one, which has some merit. You cannot call SE Asian crab 'Maryland'. Maybe 'Maryland Style'.

Any crabbers on the list? I started crabbing in the Little Assawoman (not a joke) Bay near Bethany in the mid 1980s. A half dozen strings with chicken necks and about 3 hours of 'work' and a nice lunch for 2 could easily be caught. A few years later I moved up to about 3 crab pots which provided for a weekly feast.

The last time I even attempted to crab was about 5 years ago and it was a miserable experience. Basically, the blue crabs are gone from this area. I assume the commercial boats get whatever is left. Look at the price of a bushel...crazy high.

In my opinion, end of an era, sadly....

I read this piece yesterday. Nicely researched and written. Very enjoyable.

I just wish that the editor would have tightened it up a bit. For me, it tended to lose focus and ramble off course in places.

Edited by DCMark
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I thought this was common knowledge, that Phillips and the other big outfits use SE Aisan crab?  Was this really a revelation to anyone here? 

Yeah, I didn't know, but I don't buy really any crab in stores over the course of a year. At least now I know what to look for and avoid.
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It is even possible that the steamed crabs served at some of the crab joints on the Eastern Shore are from other states and not caught in the Bay. If you go to the Harris Crab House on Kent Island, you'll see a sign posting a disclaimer. I think they may get some of their crabs from the Carolinas or Louisiana.

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Great article, confirmed most of what I already suspected. I didn't quite know the reach of the Phillip's galactic crab empire though.

It really is depressing to see food of my childhood go totally down the tubes. This year may be the first that I don't throw down for a crab feast in the summer. Watermen I talked to say that they expect a better harvest later this year. A drop in prices combined with a drop in demand after Labor Day may bring prices down to reasonable levels. The $250+ bushels I saw when I was thinking of getting some friends together last month made my jaw drop.

A bit off topic, but does anybody know if the crab guy at the Dupont market on Sundays will bring live bushels on order? I've been meaning to ask him but haven't been in town the past few weekends. At least then I'd know they were local ...

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I thought this was common knowledge, that Phillips and the other big outfits use SE Aisan crab?  Was this really a revelation to anyone here? 

The packaging issue is a different one, which has some merit.  You cannot call SE Asian crab 'Maryland'.  Maybe 'Maryland Style'.

Any crabbers on the list?  I started crabbing in the Little Assawoman (not a joke) Bay near Bethany in the mid 1980s.  A half dozen strings with chicken necks and about 3 hours of 'work' and a nice lunch for 2 could easily be caught.  A few years later I moved up to about 3 crab pots which provided for a weekly feast.

The last time I even attempted to crab was about 5 years ago and it was a miserable experience.  Basically, the blue crabs are gone from this area.  I assume the commercial boats get whatever is left.  Look at the price of a bushel...crazy high.

In my opinion, end of an era, sadly....

As a chef I find myself having to make difficult decisions and compromises when it comes to food. At the end of the month you need to be solvent, so the wild turbot at 15.00 a pound whole just isn't going to make the final menu. But then neither is a disgusting and inferior product however cheap.

Phillips is a demon, they were a demon in the industry when I was an undergraduate at St. Mary's College of Maryland and had a hand in ruining the infrastructure of the very Bay they built their buillshit reputation on. Working on anthropology and folkways projects, I came to know a large group of watermen, people who still tonged for oysters and their haul was diminishing yearly, crabbers who couldn't make the cut because the market was being flooded with low cost inferior product. These people suffer when a fraudulent company like Phillips with their Machiavellian corporate ethos ruins a marketplace.

I learned my trade on St Inigoes creek, caught softshells and pulled crab pots, had some 10oz Budweisers, a string, chicken necks and friends and ate crab daily for a lot of years.

Now asDCMark said it's almost impossible to find crab on your own from the shore, but we still try.

Fuck Phillips and using their pastuerized abominations, buy local when you can and if you can't maybe crab isn't in the cards that day.

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I learned my trade on St Inigoes creek, caught softshells and pulled crab pots, had some 10oz Budweisers, a string, chicken necks and friends and ate crab daily for a lot of years.

Those were the days. I remember catching feasts down at Chancellor's Point one summer ('99?), and the very next summer we'd be lucky if our chicken necks lured 5 crabs all day (excluding the illegal small ones we threw back). We didn't do it daily, though.

I miss St. Mary's...

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As someone who was a kid in the 80's, I remember going crabbing with my folks down in Solomon's Island. We'd usually catch very little because my dad wouldn't pay the fee to crab off the dock. It was okay though, because we'd always pick up a bushel of crabs for anywhere between $35-50 and a huge paper sack of mussels for $5 We'd pick up peaches at a farm stand on the way back home and us three kids would sit in the back of the van on the floor eating until we were a big sticky blob. Once home, my dad would steam the mussels and we would dip them in a salt, black pepper, and lime juice mixture. While we grazed on mussels, he would steam the crabs. My mom would be on the kitchen floor with her Chinese cleaver, cutting raw crabs into quarters for her really excellent stir fry with ginger, scallions and crab roe. Each of us kids would eat at least half a dozen crabs, usually closer to a dozen. My brother, at the age of 7, could outpick my uncle who had the misfortune of only getting to eat crabs once a year. After we were done, we'd run around the yard for an hour before coming back in to have stir-fried crabs with a big bowl of white rice. We repeated this about once every three weeks.

For me, this is my absolute fondest childhood memory. It makes me sad that my little peanut won't be able to experience the same thing.

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My first introduction to crabs was in San Francisco when I was a kid. My mother would buy them live at Fishermen's Wharf and steam them. We treated them like lobster and I just loved them. I was astonished when I moved to this area and heard about Maryland crabs and was presented with these little-bitty things which were steamed with a bunch of hot spices.

Question: Does anybody know where I can procure live Dungeness crabs around here?

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I read this article and had a real hankerin' for crab cakes afterwards. Picked up some backfin (not from Indonesia) for $11 a pound and had five cakes for dinner that night.

Like MSG, I need more, so this weekend we're heading out for crabs. We probably can't go as far as Cantler's, so I'm curious -- has anyone been to the Quarterdeck for crabs?

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I read this article and had a real hankerin' for crab cakes afterwards.  Picked up some backfin (not from Indonesia) for $11 a pound and had five cakes for dinner that night.

Like MSG, I need more, so this weekend we're heading out for crabs.  We probably can't go as far as Cantler's, so I'm curious -- has anyone been to the Quarterdeck for crabs?

Yes Quarterdeck is pretty good.

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