Late summer is peak season for Atlantic blue crabs in the tidal rivers and creeks around Long Island Sound. According to most reports, we're experiencing a relatively good of run of crabs this year so far, especially east of New Haven. Friends and I have been getting in on the action and turning out some delicious meals to boot. Over the last few weeks, I've been lucky to crab at night and during the day, on shore and by boat, and in a variety of ways from setting hand-lines and traps to scooping them from pilings and mud banks.
Without sugar coating it, catching, cooking and picking crabs IS a lot of work. But more importantly, crabbing is a very fun, family-friendly activity that happens during a time of year when certain types of fishing take a back seat due to water temps. In some ways, crabbing reminds me of ice fishing in the fact that there is plenty of camaraderie involved--there are lots of laughs, teamwork and some standing around too. Crabbers are also usually more than happy to share info and cold beer.
While the act of capturing big blue claws is a rush, the end result on the dinner table is the draw for many crabbers. There are so many ways to prepare these tasty crustaceans, it will take a life time to try them all, but try I will. So far this season my family has stuck to crab cakes and a Portuguese stuffed crab dish called Sapateira. Our friends who introduced us to the latter recipe recently made crab-filled raviolis from scratch, which may be next up on our list. Of course, there is always the option to crack and eat them with Old Bay right after steaming. There is no wrong way to catch or cook a blue crab--just get while the getting's good!