About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Feeling Crabby
When God was handing out claws, Australia's saltwater crayfish must have been playing truant that day. Despite being able to grow to a size of several kilograms, there are just no claws, only a couple of long antenna that are completely devoid of meat. Mind you, maybe with their spiny exteriors, the lack of claws may be a good thing. It's only when I see lobster presentation from overseas that I wish there were some claws.

However all is not lost on the claw front, we have our freshwater yabbies and crayfish and they are all just itching to give a good nip, if they can get hold of you, and I think this attitude informs the Aussie character; stand next to us for long enough and we will try to have a little nip of you!

But when it comes to honest to goodness claws, our mud crabs are in a league of their own. Growing to a decent size, they have decent claws to match. If one gets hold of a finger or toe, expect it to come off. The funny thing is crabbers are rather blase about this. I've seen them reach into crab holes under turbid water and pull the beasts out. Most of them work barefoot, placing one foot upon the top shell in order to tie them up.

Because of their good claws and shell meat, mud crabs are one of our most popular seafoods, particularly beloved by Asians, who do the most wonderful things with them, the acme in my book being chile mud crab. Being highly sought after means mud crabs need some protection, and this is where our fisheries and wildlife rangers come into play.

There was this one ranger who was on the lookout for poachers during the closed season, and he suspected that old Cyril was secretly garnering a few, so he set up a watch on a well known crab spot. One morning he came across Cyril putting a rather large mud crab in the boot of his car. As he walked over, Cyril spotted him and slammed the boot shut.

"Good morning Cyril."

"Mornin' Ranger."

"What's that I saw you putting in your boot?"

"Nothin' at all mate."

"Then you wouldn't mind opening your boot and letting me have a look."

"Sure thing," and Cyril opened up the boot.

"Hello, hello, hello, what's that?" said the ranger pointing straight at the mud crab.

"That's me pet crab, his name is Larry. Every day I bring him down here so he can have a swim and play with his mates."

"Come off it Cyril, you don't expect me to believe that do you?"

"No, no, it's true, I'll show you."

So Cyril picks up Larry and takes him down to the waters edge. The big crab promptly scuttles in. The two men wait by the water. Eventually the ranger speaks up.

"Where's Larry?"

"Who's Larry?"
  posted at 8:48 am

At 11:07 am, Blogger Ed said...

Chile mudcrab! While we are on the subject of claws my cleaner a couple of years ago brought me some spiny crayfish the size of small crays from the Yarra valley (sadly he moved on). They were gobsmackingly good. And isn't it a shame yabbies are so hard to coe by nowadays. I think they are far superior to the salt water cray and the prawn.

At 5:31 pm, Blogger neil said...

Spiny freshwater crays are the most vicious of the lot, they practically dare you to pick them up, and yes they are good. When I'm heading off to my secret morel spots, there is a place on the way called Learmonth Trout & Fauna Farm on the Sunraysia Hwy where you can get really great yabbies that have been fasted and not too expensive. They also have great free range eggs. Oh, and the odd trout.

At 6:05 pm, Blogger Ed said...

They were vicious. It was a bit like that Woody Allen scene. We had them in a huge eky on ice and covered with ice. they kept trying to climb up and take the lid off. i went out and bought more and to actually pick the ...up. i should blog it now I come to think of it. It was the night I invented the most superb Risotto.

At 9:00 am, Blogger Gigi said...

Cyril and Larry ~ brilliant. :D


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