05 June 2007

Benito vs. the Decapod: Jonah Crab Claws

I was a bit mistaken by what I saw on sale at the seafood counter. Stone crab claws are an expensive delicacy from Florida and Texas waters, and I've never seen them here in Memphis. The stone crabs are so rare that in order to protect the species you can only harvest a single claw and then return them to the briny deep where the tasty crustaceans will regenerate a new claw. Now, what I purchased at the low price of $5/lb. were not mislabeled: I had just never seen a heap of Jonah crab claws, which come from a much more abundant (yet less flavorful) North Atlantic crab. To understand my confusion, you can check out this helpful page. Note the fourth photo from the top and the last photo. Easy mistake, eh? The claws tasted fine, though it was a bit tricky to extract all of the meat. Paul and Grace joined The Roommate and me for this basic Sunday lunch.

The wine selected for the meal was yet another pick from The Australian Premium Wine Collection: the 2006 Elderton Unwooded Chardonnay from the Barossa Valley. I've previously tried the 2003 and the 2005, each of which were a bit off balance. However, I was happy with this one: good citrus flavors with a hint of peach on the nose, medium acidity and a smooth finish. The non-oaked Chardonnays are a fun alternative to the heavily oaked California Chards, and it's been interesting to see some of the names used for marketing this lack of oak: unwooded, naked, virgin.

The true star of the meal turned out to be the stuffed eight ball zucchini from the Agricenter Farmers Market. I hollowed them out and filled them with sautéed young onions (again from the Farmers Market), canned tomatoes, homegrown thyme, and topped with shredded Romano cheese. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or so and serve. Add in some fresh roasted sweet corn, and we've got a simple yet delicious lunch.

With the abundance of fresh vegetables available locally as well as the sheer masses of tomatoes I'll have, it's tempting to go vegetarian for the summer.


Jen said...

I love those eight ball zucchini! If you still have some or get some more, here's a great recipe:

Eight-Ball Zucchini Parmesan
Recipe Source: Cooking Light

1 (1-ounce) slice French bread, torn into small pieces
6 eight-ball zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup packed spinach leaves
8 basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, peeled and quartered (about 5 ounces)
3/4 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped plum tomato
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Flat-leaf parsley sprigs (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.
Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1 cup. Set aside.

Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Set pulp aside. Steam zucchini shells, covered, 6 minutes or until tender. Drain, cut sides down, on several layers of heavy-duty paper towels.

Place zucchini pulp in food processor; process until finely chopped. Spoon into a bowl. Place spinach, basil, garlic, and onion in food processor; process until finely chopped.

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add spinach mixture; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini pulp, tomato, and salt; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in breadcrumbs.

Fill each zucchini half with about 2 1/2 tablespoons zucchini mixture. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until cheese melts. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 zucchini halves)

Collin C. said...

that looks good (your recipe too Jen)!

We have been hooked on the live Dungenese crabs at Viet Hoa Market on Cleveland.

Where did you find the stone crab?

Benito said...

I got the Jonah crab claws at Schnuck's in Cordova, though I'll have to check out one of those live crabs. Do they still have the live frogs in a bucket at Viet Hoa?