Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Stones Rocks Tails

Stone crab season is in full swing, so I'd like to throw out some info for those unfamiliar with them. They are harvested between October 15th and May 15th, and, interestingly, only one claw is removed from the captured crab. The (now one-armed) crab is tossed back in the water, to regrow his delicious claw just in time for next season. The claws must be boiled, and then chilled, which prevents the meat from sticking to the shell (this all happens before the claws are shipped). The claws are normally sold by the pound in markets and restaurants, and the size designations are as follows:
Medium/.19 lbs and under
Large/ .20-.29 lbs.
Jumbo/ .30-.39 lbs.
Colossal/ .40 and up
Some places do 'Selects', which are between Medium and Large, or 'Junior Jumbos', which are between Large and Jumbo.
At my local fish market, which happens to be the incredible Capt. Jim's (which is also a restaurant), the prices as of today were as follows:
Size Retail/Restaurant
Medium $19/21
Large $25/27
Jumbo $33/35
Colossal $37/39
But I wasn't actually there for claws, in fact, I was at Capt. Jim's buying rock shrimp, which they get from up Port Canaveral way, peeled, deveined, and previously frozen, and sell for about $8/lb, and another local delicacy-fresh, delivered that morning, whole yellow tail for $7/lb. (they also had Hog and Mangrove snapper, and fresh mahi-mahi). I bought a 1 ½ lb. fish, and they clean it for you, or will butterfly, etc. They have a sign that explains the different ways they will clean it for you-take a quick look or ask-they're very friendly. If you ask for the J/C (just clean), they leave on the head and tail, and it makes for a nice presentation. I simply baked it at 400 degrees in a pan that I had lined with tomato, onion and lime slices, placed the fish over them (then you don't have to worry about the fish sticking to the bottom of the pan, and the flesh also gets nicely steamed), and poured a half-cup of white wine over the whole thing. Don't forget to slit the skin vertically every couple of inches on both sides for even cooking. Should take about 20-25 minutes. You'll know when it's done because you will see the white flesh glistening.
I made a bechamel sauce while the fish was cooking, and added the rock shrimp for about a minute after I put the fish on its platter. The yellow tail was sweet and meaty, and the rock shrimp rich and crunchy. I served some citrus-scented couscous alongside. We ate some fresh pineapple for dessert. Next week-CLAWS. Tropical in the house...
Capt. Jim's
12950 W.Dixie Hwy
North Miami, FL 33161
(305) 892-2812
For more info on claws and to watch a video of a claw being removed, go to http://www.freshchoiceseafood.com/stcrha20.html