Making a local delicacy; Cromer crab

Whenever we are at a location, we try to find out local information linked to the area. So whilst staying in Cromer in North Norfolk we felt compelled to find out about the famous Cromer crabs, a local delicacy that is sold in numerous shops and served in many cafes.

The girls went into Davies Fish shop in Cromer to ask questions and find out as much as possible from the locals. One of the women in the shop, Rose, had worked there for over 30 years and was more than happy to share her expertise. An hour later, the girls left brimming with knowledge and a freshly dressed crab in the bag!

Lessons learned:

  • Female crabs are called broadsters. They have a broader apron and smaller pincers. There is more brown meat and less white meat on a female crab. Male crabs are called jacks. They have a narrower apron and much larger pincers. There is more white meat on a male crab.
  • Crabbing does take place throughout the year but much less during the winter months. The best time for the crabs is Easter. Later on in the season  they start to shed their shells.
  • Crabs are caught in pots, lured in by fish bait. This is a traditional method and sustainable. The crabs are caught alive and any that are too small are returned.
  • The Cromer crab is a brown crab. It has become a famous delicacy because of its sweet, tender flavour due to the chalk shelf on which it feeds and nutrient-rich water.
  • Once caught the crabs are boiled in large coppers (pans) for 20 – 30 minutes. The crabs are then dressed ready to sell. The legs and claws are twisted off and the body section is removed from the shell. The stomach and ‘dead man’s finger’ need to also be removed before scooping out the  meat in the shell. Lastly, crack open the claws and legs to pull out any white meat.
After a visit to the shop, the girls headed down to beach to see the boat which is used to catch the crabs. The crabs and lobsters caught that day had just been sent off but the fishermen, as they emptied the boats of pots brought in for winter, gave the girls an insight into their lifestyle. I don’t think the early mornings appealed and they’d need to learn a few more knots to get a job!