February 25, 2009

Joe's Stone Crab restaurant in Miami

Whenever I visit Miami, I like to pay a visit to my friend’s at Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant where I always have a great time and great food, including a platter of succulent stone crab claws. Stone crabs from South Florida have shells as hard as their name implies. The only edible parts of the crab are its two large claws, which weigh as much as three-quarters of a pound apiece. Although stone crabs have always been plentiful in the waters surrounding Florida, no one thought to eat them until 1921, when a Harvard professor visiting Miami suggested to a local restaurant owner that the crabs might be delicious. Indeed, after being cooked and chilled, the firm-textured crabmeat tasted sweet and succulent. So stone crab claws were put on the menu, served with drawn butter and mustard sauce. Soon, word spread and tourists flocked to the eatery to sample this new gastronomic sensation. Today that Miami Beach restaurant, called Joe’s Stone Crab, is still a very famous destination.

Because of the enormous popularity of their claws, the harvesting of stone crabs is now regulated, with a season stretching from October to May. The crabs are caught in wooden traps, and if they’re big enough, one claw per crab may be removed by snapping it off. The crabs then go back into the ocean where they regenerate new claws for the ones removed and it takes between 12 to 24 months for those claws to reach legal size again.

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Look at those claws - it's a bit of work picking the meat, but so worth it!