Eat 'em to Beat 'em: The Invasive Green Crab

May 18, 2017

Green Crabs - ready for the pot
Credit Photo by Ali Berlow

The green crab (Carcinus maenas) arrived on the shores of Massachusetts in the 1800s. It is described as an alien or invasive species, because of its negative impacts on economically valuable shellfish stocks like clams and bay scallops—though there may be culinary uses in its future, if we cooks get creative.



Different sizes of cooked Green Crab
Credit Photo by Ali Berlow

Green Crab Stock 

Heather Atwood is the author of ‘In Cod We Trust: From Sea to Shore, the Celebrated Cuisine of Coastal Massachusetts’ (Globe Pequot Press (July 15, 2015) her blog "Food for Thought" and the weekly column by the same name is syndicated in a number of Massachusetts newspapers.

Makes 6 quarts


4 tablespoons olive oil

2 bunches celery, with the leaves, about 1 pound, roughly chopped

1 large red onion, roughly chopped

1 small head fennel, cut into 1/2” slices

12 corn cobs (optional)

2 bay leaves


1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning

approximately 3 quarts water

2 cups white wine

2 dozen green crabs


1. Rinse crabs well in cold water. I recommend doing this outside in a large bucket; just fill the bucket with water and throw your crabs in. Stir well, and leave them in the bucket until your stock is boiling.

2. In a large stock pot or lobster pot heat the olive oil to medium. Add the celery, onion, and fennel. Lower heat, and cook until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Add the corn cobs if using, the salt, bay leaves and Old Bay and stir well, tossing the vegetables well with the seasoning. Allow to cook for 5 more minutes, or until the onions just begin to darken.

3. Add the water and wine, and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes to integrate the flavors, particularly the corn cobs.

4. Bring stock back to a hard boil. Bring the crabs into the kitchen, and scoop them into the boiling stock. Allow to cook at a strong simmer/low boil for 45 minutes. Let cool, and spoon out the cooked crabs and as much of the vegetables as you can. Strain the remaining cooled broth through cheesecloth. Pour into jars or plastic containers for storing or freezing.


Green Crab Risotto 

Serves 6


6 cups green crab stock

1 T butter

1 T olive oil

1/2 red onion, chopped

3 small carrots, diced, about 4 ounces

1 small banana pepper, or 1/2 a green pepper, seeded and diced

1 small red cherry pepper, 1/2 ounce, diced (optional)

1 1/2 cups or 12 ounces Arborio rice

red pepper flakes

salt and pepper

3 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 pound crab meat (1/2 – 3/4 cup reserved for garnish if you like)

juice from 1-2 lemons or to taste

1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds

1/2 cup chopped fresh dill


1.  In a medium sauce pan bring the stock to a simmer.

2.  In a large saute pan heat butter and olive oil together on medium heat. When butter is melted and bubbling, add onion, carrots and peppers. Let cook for 8-10 minutes over medium heat until softened. Add rice, and stir well, cooking until the rice begins to crackle and just begin to turn lightly brown. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

3.  Ladle in 1 cup of the hot broth into the rice, and stir until it is all absorbed. Add the chopped tomato, and then ladle in another cup of stock. Stir until the stock is absorbed, and then continue to ladle in the stock, stirring each addition until it is absorbed. This usually takes 20-25 minutes.

4.  Taste the rice to make sure there is no “crunchiness” to it at all. You want it to be creamy, but not mushy. Stir in the fresh lemon juice. Serve in warm bowls garnished with the reserved crab, toasted almonds and chopped dill.

Recipes reposted with permission from Heather Atwood.

Read about Legal Seafood's interest in green crab stock in the Boston Globe



Credit Photo by Ali Berlow




Ali Berlow is the author of The Food Activist Handbook