For those of you who have never tasted a stone crab it is well worth the splurge now that they are in season. A specialty food item, they are possibly pound for pound the most expensive shellfish sold in the United States.
Stone crabs are found in and around the water off the coast of Florida. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
about about 40 percent of the states average 3.1 million pounds comes from the waters surrounding the Florida Keys. Harvesting stone crabs is a unique process. The claws are removed from a live animal and then the crab is returned to the ocean where it can re-grow its taken limb. There are strict rules placed on the harvesting of the crab claws which must be at least 2 3/4 inches in length, not to be removed from a female crab with eggs, and taken only between the dates of October 15 - May 15th each year. In theory, if both claws are regulation size it is legal to remove them but the crab will remain healthier and be able to regenerate its lost claw faster if only one is removed.
Another reason for the expense of this delicious crustacean is that they should be cooked before they are cooled or frozen. If not prepared in this method the claws will taste watery, mealy, be difficult to remove from the shell and in general not worth the hefty price tag. This is why you will only see pre-cooked stone crabs at your favorite gourmet grocer. Traditionally crab claws are served on a bed of ice with a mustard sauce.
If you aren't planning a trip to Florida any time soon but love shellfish you can have them delivered to your home from one of the areas most famous restaurants appropriately titled Joe's Stone Crab
. They come in three sizes and can be purchased according to the number of diners you plan to serve. For a group of four people the crabs will cost you between $166.95 and $245.95, depending on their size, and and will be shipped overnight to your door any where in the continental United States.