ORIENTAL’S SAIL LOFT REALTY CRAB CAKES
by Suzanne Gwaltney, SRES
Blue crabs are plentiful in the Neuse River. The life cycle begins in the salt waters of the broad sounds where female or “sponge” crabs deposit their eggs between the first of June and the end of August. At birth the baby crabs are about 1/25 of an inch long and look like swimming question marks. This “zoea” sheds its shell many times and is called a “megalops” when it begins to resemble the adult. Crabs hatch from eggs in late June, usually pass through the larval stage by August, and begin to move up river during early fall, or until cold weather halts the migration. In the spring their journey is resumed and full maturity is reached in 12 to 14 months. In order to increase its size, the crab must molt, or shed, its exoskeleton shell home. As it approaches a molting it becomes a “peeler” and when it actually discards the old shell it is called a “soft shell”.
Crabmeat is delicious, and a favorite way of preparing is simple steaming. Diners do the digging for the sweet meat at the table, in much the same manner as lobster is enjoyed. If the blue crab is chosen in the soft shell stage, breading and sauteing whole is a delicacy.
Folks in Oriental NC love catching blue crabs, it is simplicity itself and anyone can do it. A common method is to tie a fresh chicken leg to a length of stout string, drop the leg into the water from your own dock, wait until a crab clamps on, then haul up the prize, always maintaining a healthy respect for those claws, of course. Crabmeat is a special delicacy in Oriental, NC, and since crabs abound in surrounding waters many residents set their own crab pots. In season the catch can be found daily. Ms. Anne Gwaltney always fixed the best crab cakes on the Carolina Coast. Ms. Anne, co-founder of Sail/Loft and mother of owner, Larry Gwaltney shares hers.
1 lb. back fin crabmeat (all shell removed)
½ cup cracker crumbs
¼ tsp. dry mustrard
1 tsp. Worchestershire Sauce
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp pepper
Mix all ingredients and gently fold in crabmeat and sauté in a small amount of butter about 3 minutes on each side. Enjoy!