October 15th marks the start of a very special “season” in Miami: Stone Crab Season. For the next seven months, the sweet, juicy meat of the giant stone crab claw will be on the menu at waterfront and seafood restaurants all over South Florida. There is, perhaps, no more famous place to dine on the delicious, chilled crab claw meat than at Joe’s Stone Crab, an iconic institution that opens only during stone crab season and specializes in the crustacean dishes served alongside a dish of secret tangy mustard/mayonnaise dipping sauce.
What’s a stone crab?
Native to the waters off the coast of west central Florida around the peninsula and up the eastern coastline, the Florida stone crab is a seasonal delicacy enjoyed by foodies and locals alike. Because of the claw’s regenerative abilities, the crabs are harvested alive during the seven-month season and returned to the water. Today, Florida’s stone crab fisheries oversee strict conservation efforts and provide nearly 98% of the stone crab claws to markets and restaurants throughout the country.
How it began
Despite the fact that the infamous Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant traces its origins back to 1913, it wasn’t until the 1920s that the locals realized the thick-shelled critters that filled Biscayne Bay were even edible. As the story is told by Jesse Weis, (whose parents restaurant, then-named Mother Joe’s, became the first to begin serving stone crabs) a Harvard ichthyologist in town for research brought a burlap sac of live stone crabs to the restaurant and Jesse’s father, Joe, threw them in boiling water. “…that was the beginning of it. When we started serving them chilled and cracked with hash brown potatoes, cole slaw and mayonnaise, they were an instant success. And this is the way we have been serving them since.”
How do you eat a stone crab claw?
The first note for the stone crab novice: stone crab claws are served chilled. Generally offered in a trio of sizes: medium, large and jumbo, stone crab claws will arrive fully cooked and pre-cracked on a plate of ice accompanied by little more than a lemon, tangy mustard dipping sauce and a couple of tools to assist in peeling off the hard outer layer and coaxing the thick, sweet meat out of the shell. The claws are paired best with a chilled glass of champagne, sauvignon blanc or vermentino and enjoyed with an ocean view.
Let’s get crackin’!
Celebrate like a Miamian and add jumbo stone crab claws to the menu when you book a Propel yacht charter between October 15th and May 15th. Let us book a table for your party at Joe’s Stone Crab or any of the area’s hot waterfront restaurants. Prefer to dine aboard your yacht? We can arrange for stone crab claws to be delivered just prior to your charter or, for the ultimate foodie experience, book one of our professional private chefs who can prepare and present each dish with all the appropriate fanfare.