Fae Kontje-Gibbs


Wild Thing: Blue Crab

(Callinectes sapidus)

The Chesapeake may be crab country, but their same famed blue crabs – the ones New England restaurateur and cookbook author Jasper White has called “the gold standard for crab cocktail” – swim along our shores, too. You can take up to a bushel per day of adult-sized crabs, no permit required.

Where to look: Blue crabs live in both fresh and salt water, so you’re most likely to find them in coastal Vineyard ponds that open to the ocean. Edgartown Great Pond, Tisbury Great Pond, or Chilmark Pond are all best bets. Crabs are fast – much faster than you. (Their scientific name translates to “beautiful savory swimmer.”) Since you can’t beat them, you need to outsmart them. Walk very slowly or stand in one spot while stalking your prey, net in hand. When you find your target, scoop it up in one swift movement. Avoid taking the females, which are easily identified by their red-tipped claws. And never take a female laden with eggs. The Vineyard’s crab population is unpredictable from year to year;
it needs all the breeding help it can get.

How to use: Try it in any recipe that calls for crab meat, such as cakes, dips, or salads. Or pick it and eat it straight, dipped in butter or smothered in Old Bay. 

“The crab that walks too far falls into a pot.”
     –  Haitian proverb