Fresh Blue Swimmer Crabs - 'Tis The Season
October 31st 2008 05:44
Blue swimmer crabs (Portunus pelagicus) are also known as blue manna or sand crabs, and are found in coastal waters throughout Australia, except for Tasmania. Inhabiting bays and estuaries to a depth of 60 metres, they prefer muddy or sandy bottoms but are also found on rubble, seagrass and seaweed, where they feed on shellfish, worms and brittle-stars on the sea floor.
Male blue swimmer crabs can grow to 19 or 20 cm across and a maximum weight of one kilogram. As the name suggests, they are blue, with a white underside, and have paddles on the hindmost pair of legs for swimming.
The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries is responsible for regulating commercial and recreational fishing in Queensland. Most importantly, it is illegal to take the female crabs, which are known as jennies. They can be identified by their broader tail, which is curled up against the underside of the shell.
Most blue swimmers are sold within southern Queensland and some are sold interstate but there is virtually no overseas export. When cooked, blue swimmers become vivid red with a white underside. The flesh is white and the flavour is delicate. It is suitable for any dish requiring crab or crabmeat. There is a kiosk on The Spit that is famous for its crab sandwiches and with summer coming it is a perfect time to try one.
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