Friday, March 26, 2010

Crab soup

So far the only crabs I have been able to catch are about an inch long - I gathered a bunch of them at lunch time (low water)in about 10 minutes and some tiny ribbed mussels, along with some little mantis shrimp and some burrowing shrimp (my experience with the latter two says 'bait'). These are the little hoon pea-crabs I've mentioned before - and catching them was a matter of finding a bunch of them pigging out on a clam and swooping in from behind (nippers in front).

I've been looking for a way to deal with our most common rock-fish - wrasse. So I thought I'd try a mix between Tal-Grottli bisque (grottily?) from IIRC Malta and Bouillabaisse - cook the crabs whole and then toss the mix into a blender, sieve the shell out, and at least get the crab flavour. So I did this, along with some of Inge's tomatoes, Lisa's red onions and garlic and a red jalapeno chili. Some sherry stuff we'd been given and Tasmanian pepper - not a single bought ingredient, outside of the olive oil I softened the onion in. The soup was then brought to a rolling boil and I added the wrasse (chopped into boneless inch-wide squares, and some abalone just after. The fish had about 3 minutes and the abalone maybe 2 before I took it off the heat. I added the pre-cooked mussels and some of my chopped parsley. Served with fresh pao rolls (made with flour and some potato - the way they did Mozambique to save flour) it was superb - and near as dammit all free or foraged food. I could feel self-righteous and thrifty for nearly half a bowl - which was as long as took me start feeling a little unwell. I need a stronger liver.... it's RICH. Still, you can eat wrasse like that and really enjoy it.

John-boy popped in to lend us a couple of paddle-skis - one kid-size, the other a real fishing sit on kayak I can definitely set crab-traps from. Work presses so I need to get the wordcount up before I go and try this. Thank heavens the weather is set lousy for the next few days. It makes resisting temptation so much easier.


  1. I've recently been improving in sending packages to my family in Oz and have discovered that the cost of mailing things really isn't that high. Are there any small items you guys could use that are mailable and would make it through customs?

  2. That's very sweet of you, but the only two things I can think of a fishing cotton (they don't use it here) and an oyster knife (we lost two with the drawer of stuff that has gone missing.) Not exactly available in your part of the US. So... pop some little extra into the Oz trip savings account, so we can see you guys instead.;-)

  3. You can eat those crabs? They're not terrifyingly toxic?

    Dang. Who knew?

  4. We're remarkably un-dead (er, what a bad choice of words ;-) hammer that stake through my heart again)

  5. Dave -- I just had a thought.

    I don't know what the Flinders population of macropods (wallabies) is, but if it's anything like other areas in northern Tas where humans have cleared areas for settlement, there are tons of them. Literally a plague.

    There are legal rules which permit culling, and a lot of locals hereabouts shoot 'em. And to my surprise, they're extremely good eating. Very mild, well-flavoured game meat which doesn't take much preparation, doesn't have the 'gaminess' of things like venison or rabbit, and doesn't dry out or turn tough unless you really mess it up.

    I like 'em cut to chunk size, threaded onto skewers, and charcoal-grilled. Marinated in a bit of lemon, salt, garlic and rosemary, they're absolutely delicious.

    I'm guessing they'd make a nice change from fish.

    PS: Possum works very, very well as a kebab too. (I write from experience). And it's amazing how well your garden veggies and your fruit trees will grow once you've had a few possum barbecues...

  6. The possums so far have been absent from my garden. The wallaby are on the list of things to try and get. It's a question of not as yet owning land, or as yet a fire-arm (no I have nothing against shooting for dinner or to protect my crops, although I don't shoot for fun (or fish to put back)). It's a bit of a balancing equation, Dirk - I have most of fishing/diving stuff and know how to use it - if not as well as the locals, and can easily get to places to do so, and don't have the same with the land-based stuff. I'll get there. There are wild turkey (in huge flocks) and peacocks and pigs too, all of which are introduced and something of a public service to remove critters. But... I also have to write to pay the bills. I'd love to buy lots of new bits and spends my days learning and cooking. But that can't be done like that. Shrug. We'll get there. And it's a great place and we're really glad to be here.

  7. Well, there's a great kitchen supply shop that I'm hoping someone will visit soon to get me a decent candy thermometer, and they do stock oyster knives. QM also works close to a Bass Pro Shop, but I confess I've never heard of fishing cotton before. What exactly is it? The savings fund for our trip was already started this week. :-)

  8. Sometimes called ghost cotton - it is used for tying soft baits on to the hook. The local answer is to use tougher bait - which works if ther is a super-abundance of fish prepared to eat anything. This is not always true.