Also known as Swimmer Crabs and Sandies according to the guys at Fisho fish stall, these Blue Manna Crabs have a vibrant intense blue colour flowing all the way down their accents, the main body or carapice is is a mix of purple and browns. This description of the crab means these ones are boys. You can also tell their gender on the back of the carapice, where there is a V-shaped flap it is a boy. The girls are blue all over with a U-shaped flap, they also have sweeter meat and come at a more costly price.
Freshly caught on Saturday morning down in Mandurrah, we bought our crabs at lunchtime at the Subiaco Farmer’s Market. Four crabs (1kg) for $15. Bargain! Blue Manna Crabs do not survive long after they have been taken out of the water. By the time we bought them they were dead. They will last up to two days in the fridge if you don’t want to cook them immediately, otherwise pop them in the freezer. There should be no fishy smell off them, just fresh seawater.
I couldn’t resist using these immediately, I have never cooked with crab before and having only ever eaten crabs claws in the past, I thought it was time face my squeamish demons and cook up the boys in blue. I couldn’t stop fawning over there amazing colours and imagining them at work in the ocean. With a bit of research done, I was armed with my crabs and a pot of salted boiling water. Popped them in and cooked for 5 minutes. Be sure to remove any scum with a slotted spoon. We cooked two crabs at a time and then immediately placed them in a bowl of ice cold water. Doing this ensures that the crabs do not continue to cook on after you have taken them out of the boiling water. After watching a couple of online videos on how to shell these babies, we set to work. We managed to extract about 3oog meat between the four crabs. We did have a lot of fun shelling the crabs, despite snagging my thumb on a claw. The meat was gorgeous and we couldn’t help gobbling up some whilst we were working.
While we were busy crabbing, I popped a whole butternut squash, skin and all into the oven at 200°C for 35 minutes. Remove, leave to cool on a wire rack and then the skin should fall off easily. Scoop out the seeds and set aside. The butternut squash weighed about 650g and once cooked, I had 460g flesh.
Follow these steps that lead to an amazing risotto dish….
200g cooked crab meat
460g roast butternut squash, chopped
1 tbspsn unsalted butter
Glug of olive oil
1 large white onion
2 tspns thyme
225g arborio rice
160ml crisp white wine
1.25 ltrs chicken stock
60g freshly grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the butter and olive oil together in a saucepan, add in the diced onion.
Cook for about 15 minutes, until the onions start to caramlise. Add in the thyme.
Pour in the rice and coat with the onion mixture.
Add in the wine and allow the rice to absorb the liquids.
Slowly start to add in the stock, continuously stirring.
Never let the rice stick to base of the pan.
Once the rice has absorbed the liquid, add more in, about 1/2 cup at a time until all of the stock has gone.
This should take about 20 minutes.
Take your chopped butternut squash flesh and add it in to the mixture. The risotto will take on a bright amber colour.
Sprinkle in the crab meat and parmesan.
Stir for a few minutes and serve with some chopped chives and parmesan.
I think this is just the beginning of my adventures with shellfish. Have you ever cooked crab before and if so, what type?