What’s the Deal with Stone Crab?

By Rina Rapuano  |  January 29, 2014
Credit: Rina Rapuano

Most Washingtonians can expertly and efficiently pick a blue crab till it’s stripped clean of its sweet meat. But with the Friday opening of Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab downtown, locals may be wondering how exactly to tackle this Florida import.

The good news is that it’s much simpler than its northern cousin, since you only eat the claws. (The stone crab’s claws regenerate, so the crustaceans are released back to the wild after its claws are removed.) Joe’s makes it even easier by doing the hard work in the kitchen, leaving the shells intact yet cracked for diners to remove themselves.

To begin, you break off the two knuckles from the main claw, then peel the meaty pinchers like a hard-boiled egg. Then you dip the meat into melted butter - a fitting step since the meat tastes a lot like a cross between crab and lobster - or into Joe’s secret-recipe mustard sauce. Others simply like to give it a squeeze of lemon or lime.

Then you're ready to eat. There is a large, cartilage-like membrane hidden inside the meat of this main part of the claw, so you eat it more like an artichoke - being careful to strip the meat off with your teeth without biting all the way through. The knuckles are a tiny bit more work since they are smaller, but you basically just peel and eat. 

And while the servers in tuxes, the opulent downtown dining room and the fancy silver bowls for your crab shells are a far cry from eating blue crab on the Bay, we think there’s room enough in this town for the both of ’em.