We Love those Stone Crabs!
For most locals in Key West the holiday season starts with Goombay, the first of the festivities for Fantasy Fest. For me it starts with my favorite holiday of all, October 15th - opening day for stone crab season!
Every Friday after October 15th a good friend and chef, Justin, gives me the call, “I just got in from pulling the traps and we killed em”. He fishes a hand full of recreational traps with Big Joe and myself until our conflicting schedules knocked me out the loop. But, there is no way I will not make it to his house to enjoy the plunder.
As I pull up to his driveway I can hear the clacking of cracking stone crab shells. The gorging begins. Fresh key limes are picked from the tree in the yard and Justin makes his key lime garlic butter as a dipping sauce. Big Joe brings his homemade cocktail sauce that is better than any other I have tried or attempted to recreate. Not one claw is sold - many are distributed to family and friends but only when we have eaten stone crab until we just can’t anymore.
Eating a freshly boiled stone crab claw while still warm is possibly the best thing I have ever had. Stone crab enchilado (chilao) with corn meal is another amazing Key West Conch dish. I have even breaded the claw meat with the pincher still on and fried them to try stone crab in another amazing way. As of last night I enjoyed myself a stone crab frittata topped with foie gras and truffle oil.
There is no doubt that there are many delicious ways you can serve them but the traditional drawn butter and cocktail sauce is the best.
Justin’s Key Lime Garlic Butter
- ½ cup of butter
- 2 large cloves of garlic chopped fresh
- 2 fresh key limes juiced
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Sea salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in bowl and microwave for 45 seconds until butter is melted.
Big Joe’s Seafood Sauce
- 2 cups ketchup
- ½ cup of horse radish
- Juice of 3 key limes
- ½ cup fresh chopped parsley
- 2 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
- Salt to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients bring to a simmer for ten minutes then chill and serve.
Chef Martin Liz
Culinary Author, and Chef, Martin Liz is a 3rd generation native, Key West Conch. He is classically, French trained and specializes in Key West's fresh seafood. Spearheading the 'Ocean To Table' movement, Chef Martin makes an amazing array of truly unique, Key West and Caribbean delicacies, utilizing local seafood and exotic, indigenous flora and fauna. His natural creativity, coupled with classical training and a desire to preserve the largely lost, culinary traditions of his heritage, meld an exotic mix of Cuban, Asian, Afro-Caribbean and French-West Indies with tastes that are exclusively, undeniably, Key West. Famous for his "Caja China" (Cuban, China Box) Pig Roast, Key West-Fresh Paella, Island Style Smoke and a passion for upscale, Beach Barbecue with indigenous wood flavors, Chef Martin's mission is to bring back the traditional flavors of Key West, that have been lost in time. Chef Martin is also an accomplished, "Gastronomical' Columnist and Published Author, who has been featured in many TV shows, magazines and periodicals including HGTV and Travel Channel's 'Bizarre Foods America', to name a few. He has also conducted seminars, educating guests on the thing he knows best - Conch Cuisine and Culture, at the Atlanta, and Key West Food and Wine Festivals. His culinary accomplishments have landed him, working alongside such well known, chefs as Top Chef Judge, Michael Shwartz, Culinary Author and Chef, Kevin Graham and Norman Van Aken. Chef Martin Liz is currently focusing on a few key, consulting projects, and enjoying keeping Key West Conch Cuisine and Culture alive, through private parties, classes and educational seminars. Chef Martin is available at 305.896.2087 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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