get cracking

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Fish and Seafood, Sauces and Such, Dinner for Two, Dinner Party, Sources, Fête Fact, Posted on October 28, 2018 by Sandy Bergsten

Each October I travel to Florida to help my dad get settled back into his house after his summer up north. It’s truly a labor of love, filled with a myriad of to-do lists and even more laughs.

Don’t get me started on our perennial wrangle over the open condiments he always seems to leave in his refrigerator for five months. That said, I keep my fingers crossed that the start of stone crab season coincides with my annual trek. While spending precious time with my dad is payment enough, a morning catch from Merrick Seafood in Cape Coral is like winning the lottery.

If you’ve never had stone crabs steamed right off the boat, you haven’t had them. And while you pay dearly for this precious cargo it’s worth every penny. I adore a big plate simply served with a side of coleslaw and my mom’s curry sauce.

My dad has the craziest contraption for cracking his claws. It’s called the “Florida Cracker”. It’s an anodized aluminum vice that perfectly splits the hard shells while preserving the sweet flesh inside.

My mom always called this the dinner of a thousand plates. My eyes tear up each year as my dad brings out the 3 ½ x 5 photos of the table setting my mom always used as a guide. Perle Mesta had nothing on my mom.

She was truly an entertainer extraordinaire. She always knew how to welcome people into her home in a way that made it all look effortless and made her guests always feel at ease. At her side I learned that it was all of her planning and effort beforehand that made her evenings look effortless.

And my mom’s curry sauce couldn’t be a simpler accompaniment. Just combine one cup mayonnaise with a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, another of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a half teaspoon of curry powder. Whisk until combined. Cover and refrigerate.

Place a generous spoonful into a decorative dish.

Surround with cracked claws.

And never feel like you have to do it all. I always pick up a quart of jicama coleslaw form the Palm Grill. And while cocktail sauce is easy to make- Merrick’s rocks the boat. 

Fun fact about stone crabs is that the fishermen are only allowed to harvest one claw at a time. They return the one-armed bandit back to the sea, so it can grow another one for the following year. Good thing- because next year you know I will be throwing out another open jar of Durkees and laughing it up with this character!

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