The season is nearly upon us – stone crab season, that is. Stone crab season officially begins on Monday, October 15. Are you ready for the sweet, delectable goodness of stone crab claws? Are you prepared to take full advantage of this bounty from the sea? If not, thankfully, there is someone who is ready to help – Fresh Stone Crabs of Miami. Shelly Abramowitz, the owner of Fresh Stone Crabs and New York City’s acclaimed 1980’s restaurateur of glitzy hotspots Canastel’s and Café Society, is at your service.
Abramowitz is excited to be able to reincarnate his 1989 concept for supplying fresh stone crabs not just locally but within the entire US. Over ninety percent of all stone crabs harvested are from Florida. While other companies will ship stone crabs, Fresh Stone Crabs guarantees their stone crabs are always fresh, never frozen. Deliveries to Miami Beach are free. Shipments anywhere else within the US are at a significantly reduced FedEx charge, which generally is about half the price of other shippers’ fresh catch.
Abramowitz says, “One of the biggest challenges for customers is truly getting fresh stone crabs. Many restaurants will freeze the bulk of their stone crabs when they are in season for shipping later, saving the fresh crabs for their tables. I don’t have a restaurant and therefore don’t have that dilemma. My customers will get fresh stone crabs, never frozen, every time. I work with over 50 fishing boats in the Florida Keys to service my orders. When I sell out, that’s it. We don’t even own a freezer.”
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Now, you may be asking, what is the big deal with frozen vs. never frozen. Flavor. To bite into a chunk of stone crab claw meat that has never been frozen is a little indulgence of heaven. The meat is sweet, not like a chocolate chip cookie sweet, but a slight sweetness with just the faintest hint of fresh, non-processed salt from the ocean. Many people will prepare garlic butter to help with the bland freezeresque flavor of frozen shellfish. Don’t get me wrong, garlic butter sauce is quite delicious, but not needed with Fresh Stone Crabs crabs, although I have grown fond of dipping claw meat in a bit of spicy mustard for a little kick.
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Stone crabs, also known as soft-shell crabs when they are molting – a stage that only lasts a few short hours – are prized for their extra-large meaty claws. They can be prepared in a multitude of ways. My two favorite ways to prepare them is either like shrimp cocktail – quickly and lightly boiled (remember they are fresh) with a dipping sauce. Or like a Southern crab bake with large chunks of onion, corn on the cob, sliced baby potatoes (I like using red and purple potatoes to add color), sprinkled with sea salt. Sometimes I will slice a Jalapeño or two to add a little BAM! to the dish.
Personally, I would like to start the crab season to try new recipes. ■