Crabbing during the summer months is a family event in South Louisiana, and it is not uncommon to see folks dangling nets off most every bridge or canal lining the back roads of the coastal parishes. The sweet white meat of the Louisiana blue crab is a culinary treasure that is easily accessible to most anyone. A string and a chicken neck are pretty much all you need to fill a bushel basket in no time at all.
Commercial crabbing is big business in Acadiana and all along the coast fishing families make their living during the summer crab season. Cypremort Point is a fishing village just south of Lafayette that is headquarters for many independent crab boats that line the docks. My friend Frank Randol buys from them as he is one of the largest processors of blue crab in South Louisiana. His plant in Lafayette employs dozens of crab pickers that break down crabmeat into grades — claw, backfin, white and jumbo lump. The operation serves many retail locations in Louisiana as well as the restaurant industry in Chicago.
Crabmeat isn’t cheap and the jumbo lump can go for over twenty dollars a pound which is why you see families lining the waterfront docks with their nets and crab traps. A morning of crabbing fun can yield enough crabs for an afternoon boil as well as a few mounds of hand-picked crabmeat for some great Cajun Creole recipes.
One of my favorites is a dip that showcases the sweetness of delicate blue crabmeat. If followed carefully, the simplicity of this recipe and the light hand on ingredients results in a dip unlike any you’ve ever tried before. This is not a heavily spiced, beer-drinkin’ dip, but rather one that can be enjoyed with a nice glass of chilled white wine on a lazy summer evening.
Gulf Coast Crab Dip
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 0
Serves: 4 – 6
For the best flavor, source fresh lump white crabmeat, not canned, for this recipe. Fresh thyme (not dried) pairs perfectly with the sweet crab, so be sure to find it. Restrain your heavy hand on the hot sauce. I like the crunch and freshness of small sweet (not hot) peppers for dipping, but crackers or crostini will work.
6 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise, such as Blue Plate
½ cup finely diced white onion
1 cup finely diced celery
1 tablespoon diced green onion
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, stemmed and chopped
Juice of ½ fresh lemon
1 tablespoon medium-spice Louisiana hot sauce
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces fresh Gulf crabmeat
In a mixing bowl, add the cream cheese and mayonnaise, and whisk until blended. Add the onion, celery and green onion, parsley, thyme, lemon, hot sauce and Cajun seasoning. Add the crabmeat and stir to incorporate evenly. Taste and add salt and pepper. Taste again and adjust with more hot sauce if you like it spicy. Cover the bowl and chill to allow the flavors to meld together.
For serving, add the dip to a bowl and surround with crackers or toasted crostini. Optionally, serve with sweet multi-colored peppers for dipping. A chilled glass of chardonnay will pair perfectly with this dip.
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