Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Poor Crab Concentration

Don't mess with The Crab Brothers
Is there anything more tricky than getting the meat out of a cooked crab? In terms of food prep I mean. Peeling grapes, artichokes or broad beans maybe? I've spoken about broad beans before, the little emerald bastids. What about skimming chicken stock though? All that negotiating amongst onions and carrots along the surface of a barely bubbling pot, with slotted spoon to lift the scum, can be a royal pain. Or de-veining prawns? Now that is a right kick in the pants. Once, after suffering the woes of a shaky paring knife, I quickly came to the conclusion that friends coming for dinner could bloody well enjoy their Goan tiger prawn curry with intestinal tracts intact.

Crab though is quite possibly the zenith of fiddly-fartnackery in the kitchen. Early on Saturday morning I visited Billingsgate fish market with a bloke in the know *taps nose* and returned with a whole host of deceased marine life, bundled into black rubbish sacks. Including three rather stern looking boiled crabs. Crabs always look cross to me. Except when you pop their claws and legs off. Then they look like over-baked empanadas with beady eyes.

So, after returning home and having a nice cup of tea, I set to the task of cracking them apart and hammering to pieces with the back of a cleaver to extract their sweet juicy white flesh and dubious looking but still tasty brown gunk. Crab sandwiches for lunch were on the agenda and I am glad that I started at 10AM because by the time the young food urchins of the household came wandering in, rubbing their tummies at noon; well, I had just about finished.

Two hours is a long time to commit to any activity, yet when it comes to crab, I do become a bit of a stickler. Every little morsel should be accounted for. Eyeballs focus sharply down the empty channel of a hairy leg. Skewers probe nooks and crannies, picking gently, forensically. Slivers and flakes of meat drop into a metal bowl. A heaped, briny, pilaf mountain begins to form. And the tongue, as always when I am concentrating really hard, lolls out from the side of my mouth, like a wet pink sock.

This last inclination is quite interesting actually. Ever since I was a little boy, I have always used my tongue to get me through difficult tasks. Writing, drawing, doing my shoelaces up, right up to this day. According to one noodling friend, it's quite natural. Your tongue is in fact a conduit for brain-power. Stick it out like an aerial and marvel as it absorbs the throbbing alpha waves emitting from your skull.

The one thing that gets me though is this. When I finish prepping crab and dress it with mayo, a squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper and slather some of the fine, grainy pate on some heavily buttered brown bread and finally take a bite, why do I always find a piece of shell?

There must be something wrong with my tongue.

Crab intact/Crab destroyed
Crab pilaf and young boy with crab remnants
Crab sandwich

4 comments:

Foodycat said...

At least you've explained Miley Cyrus to me. She's just concentrating.

Danny Kingston said...

Foodycat - Yes, Miley just concentrates, like all the time

Kavey said...

I got an enormous live crab from the lovely Marky Mark once. In fridge overnight to make it sleepy, then knife in to kill it fast, boil the thing and then spent HOURS picking it. HOURS. My back was killing. It was a HUGE bastard and the amount of meat I got out of it was incredible. BUT I will now happily pay the premium for picked crab! Oh yes!

Jonathan said...

Now that's a proper sandwich Sir. 2 hours of hard graft... but so worth it.