We try and put out a crab pot whenever we can. It is really easy to do. They just need some sort of bait, like an old fish skeleton, even chicken wings. They can be dropped off a jetty, or a boat ramp. Sometimes we paddle in a kayak and leave them in a waterway. We will often drop a pot and fish nearby or have a picnic. Just always make sure that if you keep any crabs, they meet local catch requirements. It is very important to keep sustainable stocks in our waterways.
At the moment, the sand crabs seem to be our great success. Last month we would drop our pots in clumps of tidal mangroves, and have the most heavy mud crabs waiting. There just don’t seem to be many around anymore - the season has changed I think. Don’t get me wrong, sand crabs are fantastic. Their flesh sweet, so so sweet.
Most of the time we boil them up in sea water, or the homemade equivalent – for 8 minutes per 500g. When ready, we then eat them with a bit of lime aioli on the side. It has become quite a family ritual, crouching around the bowl picking out the flesh. Delicious.
Crab meat can be used in so many ways. Cooked meat can be stirred through pasta, added to a risotto, or as the star of a salad. Lately we have been mixing it with herbs and making ravioli.
My favourite luxury, if we have been really lucky with our catch, is sand crab lasagne. The first time I had this was about 10 years ago at Avanti restaurant in Brisbane. Since then I have come to know Gillian Hirst’s version, and everyone raves about Il Centro’s version. Since then I have adapted the sand crab lasagne to suit the tastes of our family, and to make it lighter – I just don’t like things as rich anymore. It seems sweeter that way as well.
Sand crab lasagne
- Lasagne sheets (fresh)
- Bechamel sauce (I make mine on rice milk, it tastes much better)
- 1 t Roasted curry powder
- Homemade tomato pasta sauce
- 1 T brown sugar
Mix the roasted curry powder through the béchamel sauce, and the sugar through the tomato sauce.
Add a very thin layer of the tomato sauce to the bottom of a baking dish, then add a layer of lasagne sheets. Do a thin layer of crabmeat topped with the tomato sauce. Then another layer of lasagne sheets, followed by a layer of the béchamel sauce. Repeat until the ingredients are all used – be sure to finish with a layer of béchamel sauce. I like to have a lot of layers of pasta, but construct to suit your tastes. Cover with foil.
Bake in a moderate oven for 25 minutes, then take off the foil. Then bake until golden on top – 20 minutes or so.