Tag: crab

Why You Should Steam Your Own Crab Legs At Home

You could pay $30 at a restaurant for a steam pot meal that includes a cluster of snow crab legs and lots of other things that aren’t snow crab legs, or enjoy them at home for far less.

This month, Jake requested crab legs for his birthday. The thought of preparing crab legs at home had always intimidated me, so I never attempted it, even though friends claimed it was really easy. Over the years, I’ve asked people how to prepare crab legs at home. Some suggested steaming. Another friend her mom bakes them in the oven. After reading through this blog post by the Cooking Fishmonger listing six ways to cook crab legs at home, I felt brave enough to just go for it. I love how the post ends with the advice: “Some common sense will help in cooking your snow crab.”

Ordering crab at restaurants is a pricey treat. Sometimes the crab hasn’t tasted so fresh and other times the shells are really soggy. Plus, the amount of crab you actually receive is small. The seafood we’ve bought from our local fishmonger Bob’s has always tasted fresh. All they sell is seafood, so I figure they take extra care to store it and ensure its freshness. Plus, their employees are happy to answer questions about cooking the seafood or storing it in one’s fridge and pack everyone’s order on a big bag of ice with a fresh lemon. I bought two bags (a little over two pounds total) of frozen, pre-cooked snow crab legs for $12 per pound. Frozen crab legs are usually available at most grocery stores and bulk stores like Costco. I see advertisements for crab leg sales from time to time.

At home, I let the frozen crab sit in my refrigerator until dinner time. Then, I cooked (or reheated) the legs by throwing them into a pot semi-filled with boiling water until warmed through. I gave each cluster a gentle shake to eliminate excess water and tossed them with lots of Old Bay seasoning. It was that simple.
File_000 (21)

For $26, we both enjoyed a snow crab leg feast with more clusters than we’d ever been served at a restaurant. I found inexpensive crab crackers and pick sets at my local Asian market. Next time I will take my friend Tracy’s suggestion to steam crab legs with beer and fresh lemon. “Why didn’t I try this before?” I wondered.

Have you ever steamed crab legs at home? I’d love to hear about the most recent, new food you tried preparing at home. 

When You Celebrate A Birthday At Joe’s Crab Shack

Photography Disclaimer: If you have a low tolerance for lousy phone food photography, avert your eyes after the section about Joseph’s Grill. This post is chock-full of bad phone photos. Pinky-orange crab, yellow-tinted whites, neon cocktails + a blurry, self-gratuitous selfie all bathed in the jarring lighting at Joe’s Crab Shack. I wanted to keep Martha Steward on her toes. Frankly, perfection bores me. If you feel the same way about food blogs, then this post is for you. 

How does one describe my mother-in-law?

Well, for one thing, she really likes themes. Like, really, really likes themes. Theme parties have become such a normal part of Jake’s existence, that he hardly bats an eye at her newest schemes. He smiles as he recollects a childhood of flower parties, color parties, first or last initial parties, and happy pumpkin parties.

On the other hand, my family didn’t give much thought to themes. They took it as far as asking me what I wanted on my birthday cake and possibly finding matching invitations, but no further. It’s no wonder that themes kind of frighten me.

We returned to the Twin Cities last weekend to celebrate Jake’s dad’s big 60th birthday and the theme was “Joe” since his hame is Joe. When I first caught wind of the themed weekend my mother-in-law hatched, I experienced a wave of anxiety. We were supposed to eat at three Twin Cities restaurants with the word “Joe” in their name, all on one day.

The restaurants chosen were Joseph’s Grill, Joe Senser’s, and Joe’s Crab Shack. Until this day, I had never visited any of these places.

We convened at Joseph’s Grill Saturday morning. Dreading two more Joe’s stops later that day, I kept it simple with poached eggs and a virgin Bloody Mary. Jake ordered the Greek Florentine Omelet filled with lamb, feta, tomato, onions, spinach and topped with tzatziki sauce. I’m sure it’s no surprise his entrée was more exciting than mine and, so I kept stealing bites of his lamb. If you go to Joseph’s, try something with lamb.

Joseph's grill collage border Collage

All in all, everyone was satisfied with their first Joe meals. Our server was friendly and served with finesse, portions were large and we were full.

My mother-in-law broached lunch at Joe Senser’s on the drive home and nobody bit. “What about if we just stop there for appetizers before dinner,” she asked? We groaned and arrived at the group consensus to strike on less “Joe restaurant” from the itinerary.

And then there was Joe’s Crab Shack. My first thought was that Joe’s Crab Shack looks like a space ship. Or at least, something can could be seen from space.

Joe's outside

The interior of the restaurant is as festive as the exterior. Bright lights, tropical stuff mounted on the walls and even an in-store gift shop.

Joe’s Crab Shack doesn’t waste time with napkins. Each table receives a big roll of paper towels. I was in the restroom when our server introduced himself and reacted with confusion when I noticed the roll. “Who the hell is Andrew and why is his name written on a paper towel?” I asked, before it dawned on me.

Paper Towels watermarked

Andrew did a great job taking care of our table. Joe’s is located near Northwestern College & Bethel. Many of the restaurants in this part of Roseville employ students from these colleges.

Because we were celebrating a special occasion, one of Jake’s brothers treated us to a variety of appetizers. My favorite items were the crispy hush puppies which arrived in a metal bucket along with ranch dressing. It can’t be hip to enjoy ranch as much as I do.

And then there were the drinks. A few people ordered the Category 5 Hurricane, a cocktail with a disclaimer. The menu states that each customer may only order two which is a good rule because the drink’s not only goblet sized, but strong. Plus, there’s no telling what might happen if a drunken brawl erupted at Joe’s. There are just too many mason jars and pointy marlin fish on the walls for anyone to be safe.

hurricane waternarjed

On the other hand, my margarita was weak. I know this to be true because I am the epitome of a lightweight and if I can’t feel a cocktail it’s weaksauce.

Those of us who ordered crab experienced a moment of surprise when servers approached our table to tie paper bibs around our necks. Mine said Hottest Legs Around. I could not complain because at least it wasn’t decorated with an STD joke. The rest of the bibs said things too ridiculous to mention here (nod to Marilyn Hagerty with my use of the word ridiculous).

“Help,” scream my eyes.

Bib watermarked

Of course Jake and I ordered crab at Joe’s Crab Shack. We split a Classic Steampot for two.

I was delighted that our steampot contained two, separate, perfectly symmetrical mesh bags because it meant we wouldn’t have to fight over halfies. Each contained two queen crab leg clusters, a handful of shrimp, one ear of corn, halved red potatoes, and a sausage.

Crab Pot watermarked
Customers can choose from six different flavor options for steamed seafood, but we kept it simple with Old Bay. If you want drawn butter with your crab, you have to request it. Joe’s serves it in small plastic cups that cool quickly into solid masses. I did not let this slow me down.

Jake ate slowly and avoided the “filler” items, hoping I’d leave him some crab. He waited in vain as I ate every single thing in my bag.

Crab Remains photo

The crab legs weren’t particular meaty, but tasted fresh enough, unlike crab legs I’ve ordered at similar (and nicer) establishments that reeked of ammonia. I assumed the sausage would be a bland filler, but found it to have a pleasant snap and flavorful spicing.

And then my father-in-law turned into a bird.

Chain restaurant birthday rituals are their own strange bird. They always seem to involve things like balloons, marching in single file lines, clapping, and singing and this was no exception. Joe’s took the restaurant birthday thing one step further by dressing Joe up as a bird with a styrofoam beak and wings and encouraging him to flap around the dining room. I don’t know if my memory of this incidient is hazy from too many sips of Jake’s Hurricane or a possible retreat into my happy place, but I have this picture so it must have happened.

Bird watermarked

My father-in-law was a great sport.

Joe wasn’t the only birthday boy in the shack. Shortly after, staff led another birthday charge. While they didn’t give the next birthday boy the royal bird treatment, they showered him with a procession of singing and clapping. A birthday celebration at Joe’s Crab Shack is perfect for those who want everyone to know it’s their birthday or tolerate mild form of public humiliation. Everyone else will want to die.

At the end of the evening, Joe declared that this was his favorite birthday of all time. 

The zany restaurant crawl was not made in vain and we could feel confident our dirty-joke bibs were worn with honor. The weekend served its purpose to celebrate Joe and launch him into his 61st year surrounded by family. Someone else’s birthday is never really about us, anyway.

Is Joe’s Crab Shack for everyone? Probably not. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a darn good time.

Grandma Dorothy’s Hot Crabmeat Sandwiches: Oops I Made Crabby Snacks!

This is the eighth installment in my series in which I cook all eleven recipes I found my grandmothers had submitted to their old church cookbooks. Previous recipes include Rice PilafSalad with Cashew NutsHam & Sour Cream CasseroleOld Fashioned Cauliflower SlawApricot Jello Salad, and Ship Wreck casserole (the one my mom hated). 

Oops, I made crabby snacks.

The next recipe in this series comes from Grandma Dorothy, my mom’s mom. We spent a lot of time at their Cuyahoga Falls home where I played on their tree swing and spent hours in their attic looking at antique post cards. She gave me my first taste of coffee (which I promptly spit out) and read us books. She always kept a filled candy dish and taught me how to make homemade mashed potatoes.

This weekend I asked my Facebook fans which of my grandma’s recipes they’d like to see me make next and received the most feedback about crabmeat sandwiches.

First, A Mystery
Before I could start, I had to figure out what on earth is Velacta cheese?

DSC_0048.jpg

I could not find information online for “Velacta Cheese” or even “Velacta.” However, I found an MLM company Velata that sells kitchen products, fondue sets, and processed cheese spreads. A reader pointed out that Velata is owned by Scentsy whose website says Velata was introduced in 2012. This made me wonder if Scentsy bought an old company’s line or if Velata is a new brand. Unfortunately, the company does not list a corporate phone number and has not returned my email yet.

Readers wondered if Dorothy actually meant Velveeta, with Velacta being a typo. I went with this assumption because Velveeta came into existence long before the 60’s and 70’s and I would have only been able to purchase Velata by mail ordering it from a direct sales representative.

Canned Crab
I live in a smaller Iowan town and we don’t have a large selection of seafood. I could not find frozen crab so I chose this canned variety.

DSC_0049

Cans ranged from $2.99-$10, with jumbo lump being the most expensive. This can cost $5. The meat smelled unappealing and didn’t taste to great out of the can, either. If I had found frozen lump crab, I’m assuming it would have cost more than $10. Would I really have wanted to mix a higher quality product with Velveeta?

Crabby Snacks
I soon realized these sandwiches were actually a variation of the appetizer known as Crabby Snacks/Crabbies/Crab Bites. Jackie Weaver pushed this retro dish back into the spotlight when she mentioned Crabby Snacks in the film Silver Linings Playbook.

I have to confess I made some adaptations:

  • I cut the recipe in half so I didn’t waste a whole stick of butter.
  • I substituted butter for Oleo because I just can’t.
  • I substituted sliced bread with the crusts cut off for buns because I totally missed that part when I went grocery shopping.

Crabby Snack

Notes On Preparation 

  • Velveeta does funny things when you try to melt it with butter. It may separate into little globules so stir hard, and it will eventually form a paste.
  • I rinsed the crab before stirring it into the cheese because that smell.

Concluding Thoughts
These crabbies tasted better than we anticipated. This is not saying the canned crab meat tasted good, but that its flavor was mostly masked by the Velveeta mixture.

While I liked the idea of broiling each sandwich with a slice of fresh tomato, this turned out to be better in theory. The tomato slice blocked the cheese from getting golden brown and the underlying texture was unappealing.

Would I make this again? No. But it was fun to finally try this iconic retro appetizer. I have a hard time moving beyond the flavor of the canned crab lumps. If you like tuna fish, you might not feel too bothered and even Jake said he didn’t mind the crab’s flavor. I’d prefer surimi’s flavor (fake crab) to this canned product, though I typically don’t like its texture when it’s cooked. It reminds me of paste.

Have you ever eaten Crabby Snacks? How does your recipe (or your family member’s recipe) vary? What do you know about Velacta?

© 2019 Jeni Eats

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

YouTube
Pinterest
INSTAGRAM