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Blue crab aficionados may find it hard to even try red crabs, but it is worth the effort. Red crabs have a similar, but more delicate taste than blue crabs


capable of holding 75,000 pounds of live crabs at 38 degrees until they are needed for processing, or directly to the processing line. For cooking, the crab sections are put into a large stainless steel container where they are cooked for 11 minutes at 212 degrees. The cooker holds two 328-pound containers at a time and can cook 3,000 pounds of crab per hour. Claws are cooked separately from “clusters,” which are the shoulder/leg sections. The cooking is carefully controlled by an alarm that sounds when the cooking is finished. The crab sections are then removed from the cooker and placed into a large ambient water tank for 15 minutes to bring the temperature of the cooked meat down to 75 degrees. Once cooled down, the crab sections are placed into a second large “chiller” tank where the meat is brought down to 32 degrees. This takes about 25 minutes. To maintain quality processing, each step is carefully monitored. Once cooked, the parts are sent to the various sections. Some go to the fresh line for processing/packaging, while others are sent to the brine tank for freezing into 40-pound cases of shoulder/leg sections. The product that is to be fresh-frozen goes to the brine tank and is held at zero degrees. In addition to brine freezing, the plant also has a nitrogen tunnel capable of flash-freezing crab products to minus 140 degrees in minutes.


Blue crab aficionados may find it hard to even try red


crabs, but it is worth the effort. Red crabs have a similar, but more delicate taste than blue crabs and are a healthy, low-fat, high-protein, seafood that tastes a lot like lobster. Speaking from my own experience as an amateur cook and one who would rather eat crabs than filet mignon, the only drawback to red crabs is that they don’t travel well. Within a day or less they may develop brown spots. The conclusion seems to be that unless you buy them fresh and cook them the same day, fresh-frozen red crab sections are the way to go. Flash-frozen red crabs are being marketed by the Atlantic Red Crab Company. The best source for information about buying red crabs in Virginia is Johnny Graham, owner of Graham and Rollins Inc. in Hampton, Virginia. For that matter, Johnny Graham has an encyclopedic knowledge of a wide variety of seafoods available in Virginia. You might say he knows his crabs, red or blue. His seafood market and restaurant serves a delicious she-crab soup as well as a variety of seafoods. Graham is optimistic that soon red crabs will be a familiar sight at seafood markets all across Virginia and beyond. For more information about red crabs visit www. atlanticredcrab.com. H


The House & Home Magazine


77


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