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By Reefmonkey
#2274600
This is a favorite summer dish of mine, and a specialty of the Texas coast from the Sabine (border with Louisiana) down to Galveston. It was made famous by a restaurant in Sabine Pass called Grainger's which started making it back in the 1940s. I never got to eat at Granger's as it burned down in the late 50s, but then Sartin's picked up the mantle in the 70s, and I first had it there in the 80s, before finding a restaurant in Galveston that made it soon after. Sartin's went out of business and the restaurant in Galveston did too, both by the early 90s. There is a restaurant called Stingaree's in Crystal Beach, across Bolivar Roads from Galveston Island, that still makes it, but they've really gone downhill and are no longer worth the time spent in line to catch the ferry, so I've taken to make my own. The spice mix Sartin's used, Alamo Zestful Seasoning, is no longer produced, but I've found a half and half mix of Old Bay and sugar with some smoked paprika added to be a good substitute.

Ingredients:

A dozen live crabs (you can use dead, pre-cleaned crabs I guess, but I never do, I like them fresh, and general use ones I've caught myself)
Half a cup original Old Bay seasoning
Half a cup granulated white sugar
A teaspoon smoked paprika
Enough cooking oil to fill a deep fryer, or a deep pot with an oil thermometer - I prefer peanut oil

Put the crabs in the freezer or on ice for about 10 minutes to make them go dormant. While you're waiting, mix the Old Bay, sugar, and paprika, and place in a wide shallow bowl. Then pry off the crabs' top shells, remove guts under running water, remove gills, mouthparts, and apron. Break bodies in half. Liberally dredge in the spice mix. Put in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Heat your oil to 350 F, then fry crabs, 2-4 halves at a time, depending on the size of your fryer, so as not to drop temperature too much, for 3-5 minutes. Place on paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil. Serve hot, with robust crab crackers (or a hammer) and rolls of paper towels, preferably outside as it makes for messy eating.

A vinho verde makes a nice wine pairing. Or you can't go wrong with beer, like a pilsner or similar crisp, light bodied lager.
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