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February 20, 2010

Everything but the squeal: King crab tail

 

With more chefs buying directly from farmers and fishermen these days, some unusual animal parts are showing up on menus.

That's because buying direct often means buying the whole animal -- and coming up with uses for all of it. If a chef wants to traffic in just tenderloins, better to ring up Sysco.

The snout-to-tail cuisine trend struck me particularly this week when, on the same day, The Oceanaire Seafood Room in Harbor East started offering Alaskan king crab tail, and a friend happened to mention that he'd recently dined on venison heart.

I'll get to the venison heart in my next post. On to the tail.

Oceanaire executive chef Benjamin Erjavec discovered king crab tails during an October 2008 trip to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, to learn more about king crabbing and processing. He couldn't get his hands on them in the lower 48 until this week.

"They're just trying to get full utilization of the product," he said of the fishermen. "I assume up until now the tail has gone in with the rest of the shell and gets ground up into bait."

Erjavec got his first shipment of 150 2- to 3-ounce tails just the other day, and he was playing around with how to prepare them. They're flat, thin medallions that look something like veal scaloppini. 

"We deep fried them, steamed them, poached them, tried a lot of them in and out of the shell," he said. "I think right now the way we found was the best was flour and pan sear."

That's how the tails debuted on the menu this week, five on a plate for $38.95. Quite a promotion for near-chum.

"When it's cooked, it's got a very different texture than anything I've used before -- almost got a cooked egg white texture -- spongy, but extremely delicate and sweet," the chef said.

He doesn't expect the tails to make anyone forget king crab legs, but he thinks they're "a great product" that will get some attention because "it's something new."

"I hate to say it, but if they were better than the legs, the legs would not be the big deal."

(Photo courtesy The Oceanaire)


 

 

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 5:40 PM | | Comments (9)
        

Comments

I had no idea crabs had tails. Interesting.

http://api.ning.com/files/Fh5soGJBJumER46zx*n3PykXNIbuW0V8cMjQs2aZWXa-IV2ABqujjz0BDQR-SrCPARDLprMrq5rx5yCCC2l5-guIY2y4X3py/KingCrab.jpg

Still don't see a tail. Maybe it's a euphemism.

I not surprised at the price. After all, lobster was once fed to prisoners!

By unpopular request and totally on topic.

"Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine."
— James Joyce

Lemon Girl, the "tail" is aka abdomen.
It's easy to see how those two get mistaken for each other.
Given that, I wonder what they hell their "wings" taste like.
Chicken probably.

who doesn't like tail?

I see that boh is the herpes of the blog: annoying, useless and recurring. Why do you bother? You are so old school sad.

Kitty, why so mean? Though I usually only lurk, we play nice here in the sandbox.

Yesterday my wife and I had lunch at Brewer's Alley in Frederick. I had six oysters on the half shell, a lobster roll so big I could only eat half and two beers. My wife had a pulled pork sandwich with a side of coleslaw. The total bill was $41.00. So why I would want to pay $38.95 for crab tail? This is obviously for diners with more money than good sense.

Growing up on the West Coast - the freakishly large mutant North Pacific varieties of crab were what I grew up with.

It wasn't until I moved here that I learned about blue crab and all the helpful new vocabulary associated with it. "Lump". "Backfin". "Apron". "Devil". Delightful!

I have other West Coast emigré friends who, like me, didn't realize you could eat parts of the crab other than the leg and claw (shocking!)

It immediately made me start to wonder what became of the lump and backfin on King or Snow crab -- now we know.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.
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