A new crab is coming to town

What goes through a chef’s mind the first time he or she works on food in the kitchen? That’s what I wanted to know when I visited Marc-Olivier Frappier at his restaurant My Rabbit on rue Saint-Zotique in Montreal. On the sidewalk near the back door was a large box filled with many crustaceans.

Chef Marc-Olivier Frappier tries to sort the newly arrived crabs by size. | Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexis Boulianne

The crabs, caught off the coast of the Gaspé and landed on the Rivière Madeleine the night before, were loaded onto a refrigerated truck that traveled upriver, stopping in Camourasca, the Côté Est bistro, and in Quebec, including Saint-Amour. , and then on the doorstep of several Montreal restaurants.

The stone crab, also known as the stone crab, is smaller than the snow crab and its legs are much shorter. It really is a crab emoji– laughs Marc-Olivier.

Bending over his hoard, he checks the size and color of each animal as he tries to make the first sorting. This one, you don’t even need to take it aparthe points out, showing a much smaller-than-average sample that would probably be good for a soup or sauce.

It is not every day that a new seafood product appears in the restaurant’s kitchen. | Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexis Boulianne

Ideas are already emerging on how to cook this crustacean with small claws. This reminds me a bit blue crab used for boils in the southern United States– says the chef.

Before they could be delivered, Marc-Olivier had already left a few at Impasto, across the street, and at Pichai, a Thai restaurant. The idea is that we’re all working on ithe said.

I have been cooking for over 15 years; fresh seafood from Quebec, it doesn’t happen every day. »

Quote from Marc-Olivier Frappier, chef

In the kitchen, the crabs are quickly attended to by Charles-Eric Bute, the sous chef. Removed from the cauldron after seven minutes of boiling, they are ready for peeling. Chef Jessica Noel arrives with a smile on her face; buckwheat is cooked, and she has an idea to combine both.

Sous-chef Charles-Eric Bute prepares clams. | Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexis Boulianne

Pancakes made from very tasty cereals are ready to receive the pulp, but it still needs to be removed from the hard shell. I don’t know if it’s a crab with a lack of manpower, raises Marc-Olivier Frappier. The two crabs raised by Jessica and Marc-Olivier eventually yielded only 90g of meat. We’ll have to do the math to see what that yields in return– explains the chef.

Chefs Jessica Noël and Marc-Olivier Frappier are fully focused to try to extract the delicate meat from the legs of the stone crab. | Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexis Boulianne

The taste is at a height. Tender, sweet, it is close to a snow crab, but the texture of the crustacean is thinner, less fibrous. The body is saturated with cooking fluids that can impart their flavors to an oil or preparation. In a pancake, the aromas of butter, flakes and crab form a very harmonious whole.

We really had to taste it. We wouldn’t be doing all this work if it weren’t for the taste, says Marc-Olivier Frappier. But we are in the first minutes.

At all stages, chefs are thinking about the final dish as well as logistics: Should I clean all the legs of all the crabs? How long does it take for each crab? | Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexis Boulianne

If in recent years there have been attempts at testing, now the organization La Table Ronde makes it possible to buy products from St. Lawrence in groups.

This organization brings together gourmet restaurants from all over Quebec to represent their political interests and take action netsthat is, connections between food companies and chefs.

Common, but little known

Stone crab isn’t the star of any menu in Quebec, but if you’ve ever had crab sushi or crab cakes (Crab cakes in English), possibly inside was stone crab meat from Quebec.

The fact that restaurants receive live stone crab is new, but the fact that the crab is caught and sold in Quebec is not.

Irroratus of cancer, from its Latin name, is common along the coast of Iceland as far south as South Carolina. In the late 1990s, commercial fishing regained interest. The E. Gagnon & Fils factory in Saint-Thérèse-des-Gaspets has been processing stone crab since 2001.

The arrival of this crab coincides with the end of lobster season. Starting August 1, boats that have finished lobstering can return to sea to catch crabs, extending the season. Thanks to this, we can keep 75 employees at work– says Bill Sheehan, the company’s vice president of marketing.

At the factory, the crabs are cleaned by machine; even little paws pass through it. The pulp is then sold packaged to distributors such as Norref, who resell it in Quebec. 54% of our products are sold on the Quebec market aloneexplains Mr. Sheehan.

On the other hand, he notes that lobsters have taken up a lot of trap space in recent years in favor of the stone crab. While E. Gagnon & Fils could process more than 2 million pounds (900,000 kilograms) of stone crab a year in 2006, today only 400,000 pounds (180,000 kilograms) pass through it. When faced with the profitability of lobster, this little-known, hard-to-shell crustacean just doesn’t measure up.

The crabs were caught the day before in the Gaspé and brought to Montreal in a refrigerated truck. | Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexis Boulianne

When is stone crab on the menu?

The dish is not yet born. The perfect recipe for stone crab has yet to appear in Mon Lapin’s kitchen.

With the resurgence of Quebec gastronomy, which is constantly looking for new ways to highlight the terroir, the stone crab may be able to know its glory hours, especially in the season when the classic shellfish are no longer available for sale.

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