Monday, June 13, 2016

Crispy Fried Green Crabs on a Bed of Simple Relish (one small bite)

photo of invasive green crab
photo of invasive green crab
photo of invasive green crabs and seaweed
While foraging for periwinkles (ocean snails) and sea vegetables (along coastal New Hampshire) I spotted a few green crabs. They were quick but I was quicker! I have never seen them before but this time I saw 3 of them. The adult grows to about 3 inches in length. I have read about them causing havoc along coastal Maine. These green crabs are invasive and harming our environment by eating the young local sea life (in the United States). Getting rid of them completely would be unrealistic but I think the best way to decrease their number would be to capture and eat them. My Nurse Practitioner colleague and friend Sana suggested that I batter fry them. Whether she was kidding or not I took her recommendation seriously. This recipe is inspired by her. Thank you Sana! Be sure the pan and oil are hot before you place the crabs in it. When they are alive they do not like to be covered by the egg and panko and may try to crawl away! Once added to the hot pan they will die almost instantly. These crabs do not have a hard shell like the dungeness crabs so I was able to fry them and eat them whole. They are crunchy and tasty!   
Here are some on-line articles if you would like to learn more about these invasive species:

Invasive Species--European Green Crab (Carcinus maenas)
How to identify a Green Crab
Invasive green crabs creep back into Casco Bay
Invasive green crabs-and threat to Maine's clams-dwindle

Crispy Fried Green Crabs (one small bite)


1 small egg
About 1/3 cup honey panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
About 2 Tbsp of canola or vegetable oil
Wild green crabs, washed well


1) Crack an egg in a small bowl, whisk lightly with a fork.
2) Put the panko on a small plate.
3) Dip the crabs in the egg mixture, let the excess egg drip off.
4) Roll the crabs in the panko to coat evenly. Shake off excess panko. Keep the crabs in a bowl so they do not run off.
5) Heat a small pan to medium high. Add oil.
6) Once the oil is hot, put in the crabs. Use a splatter guard to keep the oil from spraying out of the pan. Fry each side until they are golden. It will take 2-3 minutes at most (depending on how hot your stove is). Remove and let them rest on a clean paper towel.

There are many ways to make a relish for this dish. Add whatever you want. This is a simple one that I used since I have these ingredients in my kitchen. Adjust the ingredients and season according to your taste.

Simple Relish (serves 1)


3 grape tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp chopped onions
About 1 Tbsp chopped fresh gracilaria (sea vegetable)
A few cilantro leaves, chopped
A pinch of crushed sea salt
A few squeezes of lemon juice
A few drizzles of olive oil


In a small bowl, add tomato, onion, sea vegetable, cilantro, salt, lemon juice and oil. Mix everything together.

gracilaria (seaweed)
*Check out my previous post on Maine Seaweed Festival 2015 for photographs of different sea vegetables. 

crispy fried green crabs on a bed of simple relish
Crispy Fried Green Crabs on a Bed of Simple Relish (one small bite)

Pour the Simple Relish (see recipe above) out on a plate. Place the Crispy Fried Green Crabs on top. Zest some lemon rind on top. Squeeze a little more lemon juice over everything and eat right away.

*You may freeze the crabs about 10 minutes prior to cooking if you prefer not to use live crabs.


  1. were the green crabs that you caught in a soft shell stage of their life or were they hard shelled ? i catch green crabs along the coast of new hampshire and the ones i catch have shells that are hard as a rock. your recipe is the first time i ever heard of frying the whole crab . most chefs that use green crabs boil them to make a crab stock as the amount of meat in these crabs is not worth the effort to extract. my neighbor said he came across a man that claimed he too also fried green crabs and ate the whole crab shell and all but i am skeptical that the crabs were in a hard shell state.The states along the eastern seaboard are trying to find recipes to use green crabs but so far no one has submitted one except for making crab stock. I trap them to destroy them and use them for compost fertilizer or else crush them and throw them back into the water so that other marine life can EAT THE CRABS instead of the crabs eating other marine life such as clams and oysters and mussels. They will also eat immature fish and will eat immature crabs of a different species. They destroy the eel grass by burrowing in to the mud and dislodging the eeel grass roots thus eliminating the hiding spaces and breeding spaces of fin fish . So , i want to know if these crabs you caught where you ate shell and all were in their soft shell state .

  2. Hi there,
    Thank you for visiting my blog and your question!
    It is great to hear that you are also trapping these invasive crabs!
    The 3 crabs (from this recipe) were semi-soft and small so I ate them whole. I have been developing green crab recipes on my own after I went to a Green Crab Working Summit 2018 in Maine. Please visit my current blog: for more recipes. Cheers! Thanh