Memories of Stone Crab Claws and A Food Gal Giveaway

Now, that's a holiday seafood platter, wouldn't you say? (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Now, that’s a holiday seafood platter, wouldn’t you say? (Photo by Carolyn Jung)


Having grown up in San Francisco, I am an avowed Dungeness crab gal through and through.

Some people may consider lobster the ultimate luxury ingredient. But I think Dungeness is far superior with its fluffy, sweet meat.

That being said, though, I have dabbled with stone crab claws.

When you worked in South Florida for four years as I did, you can’t help but fall for these big, meaty claws.

On a lowly newspaper reporter’s salary, pricey stone crab claws were a rare treat.

But the once or twice that I did splurge on them, I must say they sure satisfied, especially dunked in mustardy mayo.

Thanks to Anderson Seafoods, I got to relive that memory recently.

The Orange County seafood distributor, which overnights fresh and frozen seafood right to your door, sent me a sample of real-deal Florida stone crab claws to try.

They’re ready to eat once they arrive. All I did was whip up my own mustard-mayo sauce before digging in, happily.

I may be a California gal, but there just might be a little bit of Florida still in me. Just maybe.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a $300 credit from Anderson Seafoods to enjoy whatever seafood you please. Entries, open only to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST Dec. 14. Winner will be announced Dec. 16

How to win?

Tell me a delicious memory about one of your favorite types of seafood. Best answer wins.

WINNER OF LAST WEEK’S CONTEST: In the previous Food Gal contest, readers had the chance to enter a random drawing for the Craftsy video tutorial, “Favorite Asian Dumplings From Scratch.” The eight-lesson series is taught by Bay Area Asian cooking teacher and author, Andrea Nguyen.

Learn how to make gyoza. (Photo courtesy of Craftsy)

Learn how to make gyoza. (Photo courtesy of Craftsy)

Congrats to the winner: Suzy Marsden

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  • blue crabs and beer on the eastern shore of Maryland

  • Fresh crab marinated in olive oil and fresh herbs from the garden accompanied with Italian sausage, ravioli and cannoli for dessert! This meal has been staple every year, ever since I was a child… on Christmas Eve. It’s the only time of year I ever eat crab believe it or not… I eat enough that night to last me all year long! 🙂

  • Hi Carolyn, My favorite memory is abalone fresh in Mexico after snorkeling.

  • One of my favorite memories is of a family vacation to the Texas coast. We all went deep sea fishing and caught nothing but little sharks! Since we weren’t successful, we came back a bought a huge bucket of fresh shrimp that we boiled then put on ice. I remember eating shrimp until I was sick but it was so good!

  • My favorite memory was when my family went to a chinese resto for lunch. There was a crab on the counter and i thought it was just a display. I tapped the shell and the crab got up and had pincers ready to strike. I screamed freaked out and ran. Yah lunch rush crowd saw me.

  • My favorite seafood is lobster. I had never had fresh lobster until I met my husband. We have a second home in Vermont, where we can get lobsters at a very good price. I always tease him because I do all the cooking. When Ro cooks, it’s to order pizza or cook lobster. He cooks it perfectly and we have it with lots of butter and champagne. I look forward to our trips to Vermont each year 🙂

  • I’m hoping to have some crab while I’m in Canada. I wonder if I can get these crabs while here? 😀 I’m such a seafood freak 😛

  • It’s my most powerful seafood memory, but not necessarily my favorite … At age 8, having observed that my mother adored oysters, I resolved to buy her a quart of shucked raw oysters from the grocer in my small Michigan town. I asked the grocer how much that would cost, and he said $10 — a huge sum to a little girl in 1962. Nevertheless, I scrimped and saved and did errands and little jobs until I had the money. When I returned to the grocer, he laughed uproariously and said, “who would sell a quart of oysters for $10? Go away, little girl.” That was the day I learned that some grown ups lie.

  • My fondest memory is the summer we were visiting with my Grandparents in New Hampshire. I was probably 13 or so. We went to Boothbay Harbor Maine where my uncles owned a cabin. My Uncle Pete took me to the docks where he knew all of the lobstermen. We bought at least 50 pounds of live lobster. We had a huge feast where we could eat all we wanted and then the next morning my Grandma Riley made the most delicious lobster roll I have ever eaten! Sautéed in butter, packed into a grilled lobster bun, and then eaten immediately. I have eaten many lobster rolls since, but none as good as that one.

  • I so rarely get to eat seafood and I don’t think I have ever had the pleasure of eating fresh seafood. I’m a huge fan of lobster and would love to try a fresh lobster! My ex husband took me out for my birthday many, many years ago and I ordered lobster. I think that was the one and only time I have ever ordered lobster in a restaurant. I guess I don’t get out much. LOL

  • When someone asks me what my favorite food is, it’s hard for me, as a foodie, to answer. But there is one item that always springs to mind: Lobster. I imagine the days before the turn of the century — not this century. The one in which I was born. Lobsters, clams, and oysters were so plentiful, they were poor folks food, sold from carts on the dusty streets of Manhattan. The lobsters were huge, older than most of the people who were devouring them.

    A few years ago, I went to buy some live lobsters. The best deals on live lobsters are in the Asian markets. It was a special occasion and I thought it would be fun to get a large lobster for my wife, Kathy, and myself. They didn’t have any in the 2 1/2 pound range. Nor in the 3 pound range. The smallest lobster they had was 4 1/2 pounds. “Did I want that?” they asked.

    I didn’t think twice, not even for a second (a Y-chromosome will do that), and not even when he held up a Buick-sized crustacean.

    “Look what I have!” I said when I got home. Kathy did think twice and twice more. She looked at me like this was not the greatest idea anyone had ever had. I know that look.

    Did I have a pot that would fit this? No. Did I have any idea how to cook this? No. Did Kathy say these things? No. She just disappeared from the kitchen and for some reason, locked the dog up.

    I will spare you the detailed mechanics of the operations that followed but to tools were involved. Once cooked, I discovered that lobster claws from a big boy like this one are as thick as cow skulls and a lobster-themed nutcracker from WIlliams Sonoma has no chance. This was a job for the garage floor and a framing hammer.

    To tell you the truth, it was not the most tender or delicious lobster but it was the most memorable. The street vendors in 1900’s New York must have been pretty sturdy. Or pretty hungry.

  • Being a native NCal girl I have to say Tomales Bay. Many laughs and a bit too much oysters and beer. 🙂

  • My best seafood memory was in Oleron, an island west of France. A friend led us to an oyster farm area that’s only available to local producteurs. Sitting on a tiny little boat, we braved the thunderstorm and dark skies as we rode out to his secret spot. After harvesting oysters and clams for three hours, we waited until the tide returned so we could go back and enjoy the bounty. The first bite of freshly harvested shellfish was unforgettable. That, to me, was an experience of a lifetime.

  • My favorite memory of seafood is with crab. My dad is not much of a cook or a chef, but when he tries its definitely delicious. He doesn’t actually cook much.. I can count the number of dishes he makes on one hand.. But growing up I’ve always loved papa’s Vietnamese Crab Ginger and Scallions.. This dish is so simple yet so heartwarming because I remember he would take my favorite part, the crab innards or butter and make the most spiciest and delicious crab fried rice with it. Every bite was full of heat and creamy flavorful bits of rice and crab.. Since crabbing is in season he recently caught ten last weekend and we feasted on them for my baby sisters birthday. But I will always remember how he placed the fried rice in the crab shell for me even then and now, just the way I like it. what a nolstagic memory and topic for me to write about, its even more close to the heart now more than ever as I am tying the knot this weekend, Daddys little girl will always love Daddy’s ginger and scallion crab.

  • Dolphin Seafood – Cambridge Ma. – Way back in the 80’s I had a six month work assignment that relocated me to Boston from Cupertino. I was persistent and not willing to settle for any old apartment. I scored an apartment in an historic Beacon Hill mansion, a sublease from a quirky anthropologist who was “on assignment”. I could walk to Durgin Park or Legal Sea Foods but I preferred driving to Cambridge and dining at Dolphin Seafood next to Harvard. The prices were very reasonable. I would start with the steamed mussels, order the daily catch special and always finish the meal with sweet bread pudding.

  • One of my favorite seafood memories is eating dungeness crab with my parent in Redondo Beach. We just moved to LA from the midwest and we heard about this korean restaurant where they sold crab AND mae-woon-tang. My mom, who was always a lover of the ocean, was thrilled to be eating her favorite foods from Korea while looking out into the ocean. Years later, I would tire of this place because my husband didn’t like it but was frequently drawn back there, time and time again after my mom passed away to eat the food she enjoyed so much and walk on the pier afterwards to digest and perhaps indulge in a funnel cake at the end of the walk 😉

  • Well, since I was the lucky winner of last week’s drawing, I don’t want to be greedy and enter this give-away. Besides, my favorite seafood memory is the one I’m hoping to have next July. We’ve planned a 3 week Maine vacation to Portland, Acadia, and Boothbay Harbor in conjunction with a favorite niece’s wedding on Peak Island. I’ve researched every lobster roll, oyster farm, clam shack, and lobster pound between Boston and Bar Harbor over the last 5 months! We’re going to be pigging out on yummy seafood every day!

  • In November 1972, I drove to San Francisco on a date. My boyfriend in St Louis had a job interview and I wanted to see San Francisco.
    We bought steamed crabs and sourdough bread and walked to Land’s End and I fell in love with the man and the city. We married and to this day we always eat crab and sourdough bread in November with a glass of California wine in the city we love. Cheers and Happy Holidays.
    I would love to win the Seafood Contest because my family loves all seafood and order it whenever we go out to dinner.

  • The most delicious seafood I’ve ever had was a plate of razor clams on a trip back to Hong Kong. We took a boat out to Lamma Island and pointed out the seafood we wanted to have for lunch. The fresh razor clams the chef fired up in his wok were tossed in savory black bean sauce with fresh sweet red, green bell peppers and toothsome onions. I would gladly take the 12 hour flight and choppy boat ride back out there just for those clams any time!

  • Having been allergic to seafood most of my life, I have always been envious watching friends and families rave about the sweetness of fresh shrimp or the succulence of a lobster claw. As they make a mess of their fingers and faces, they would remind me that I’m ‘missing out on the good stuff in life’ and other unsettling sayings of ‘more for us then’, ‘maybe one day you can join us’.

    Well that one day came a couple years ago. Every year, with medicine in hand, I try a little bite of someone else’s crab, or shrimp in hopes that I have somehow outgrown my food allergy. After eating a small bite of crab I felt nothing, could it really be! At the next opportunity, I fulfilled over years of seafood neglect, with a crab fest. Alaskan king crab legs dipped in clarified butter, Dungeness crab stir fried with chili sauce, deep fried soft shell crab, I had to try everything there was. Nothing beats experiencing the texture and sweetness of crab for the first time, and now I can partake in having greasy fingers and eating the ‘good stuff in life’.

  • My boyfriend (at the time) and I were visiting Boston so I could meet his parents. We had lunch at this amazing random little restaurant but I had the best lobster mac and cheese that I’ve ever tasted. I still think about it, three years later (and now married to that guy)!

  • best seafood? hot fried Pargo (red snapper) right off of the boat, served with coconut rice, and a whole lime. La Guajira, Colombia.

  • Sea horses– deep fried and dipped in nuoc cham. When I visited Vietnam several years ago, the locals took us a florescent-lit restaurant which had tanks of live sea food lining the blueish wall. We tried it because we were tourists. The thoughts of eating these cute creatures were difficult to overcome. However, after taking several bites, it was the most delicious and sweet. The texture was similar to eating deep fried shrimps with skin & heads. That was a once in lifetime experience.

  • My favorite seafood memory goes way back to when I visited my husband, who was in the Navy, in Japan. The city we were in was not really tourist-friendly, so all of the local restaurant menus did not have English translations. Instead, they had plastic bowls of food in the window simulating their contents. I ordered a #3 (or however it was identified) and got a really tasty bowl of … something. Later I found out it had octopus in it. It really wasn’t that bad, but had I known beforehand, I would never have ordered it! I guess the purple tentacles should have been a clue, but luckily, my husband didn’t share his knowledge with me until after I had finmished! It provided some fun memories to tell our friends about later!

  • I grew up in the part of China where fresh seafood wasn’t accessible at the time. The first time I had fresh seafood was the week I moved to the States and my family went to a Cantonese seafood restaurant for the famous ginger and scallion lobster and white boiled live shrimp. To me it was a mind-blowing experience and it really influenced my interest in food in general.

  • I love ALL seafood, but my most delicious memory was about 4 years ago when I went to LA to attend my sister’s engagement party. After a weekend of amazing food, cocktails, and karaoke:-) my parents and I decided to take a day trip to Manhattan Beach. We brought with us some of the most delicious Pinot Grigio and homemade ceviche made with buttery fresh flounder, sweet shrimp, baby scallops, red onions, cilantro, jalapeños (for a little kick), and tons of fresh squeezed lemon juice. We were there during the afternoon into the early evening…the day was perfect! The sun was the perfect amount of heat with a light light breeze that kept you cool enough to not sweat. I just remember my mom laying out with her Ipod singing to Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd, my dad happily enjoying the beach, water, and people while taking pictures. No words can describe how amazing this day truly was. The mixture of the crisp Pinto Grigio, picturesque day, carefree attitude, and the beyond fresh homemade ceviche makes this the greatest seafood memory I’ve ever had!

  • Hands down my most delicious seafood memory includes stone crabs in good ole’ South Florida. I had just graduated from FSU and returned home that summer. I was hanging out with an old friend when he received an intriguing phone call: his somewhat estranged father had called to invite him to a huge family reunion. Hesitantly, he agreed to go. The next day, he invited a friend and me to his tiny studio (we were all broke back then) and said he had a surprise for us. We go there and to our surprise and amazement, he presented us with a huge bucket filled to the brim with stone crabs! His father had catered from Joe’s and told him he could take the leftovers home. I had never seen a stone crab, let alone a whole bucket of them. My pupils grew wide as he set down some newspaper on the floor (he had no real furniture) and whipped out some hammers. He showed me how to crack one open and as soon as I saw that succulent claw meat being dipped into that Joe’s remoulade, I went to town on those suckers! They never stood a chance. Between the 3 of us we must have eaten at least 30 claws. There was no talking during this time; all our concentration was solely directed towards cracking and eating. It was the most barbaric and glorious moment of that summer (or perhaps ever). We looked at each other, guts out and shells and hammers strewn everywhere, as if we had all just committed an unspeakable crime. Any dignity and respectability we once possessed had been thrown out the window. It would forever be our guilty little secret. The next day I went on Joe’s website and saw how expensive stone crabs were. Holy cow! I am so grateful for that serendipitous moment in time. Not too shabby for three broke kids!

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