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The Forager

Seasonal seafood: blue swimmer crabs

The Forager

SA-caught blue swimmer crabs are now at their best with sweet, firm flesh that is perfect for cooking crab pasta.

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Crabbing is a holiday tradition in South Australia, where families head to their favourite spots along the Gulf St Vincent, the Spencer Gulf and the West Coast to rake and net a bag of colourful blue swimmers (Portunus pelagicus) from the shallow sandy shores.

Experienced amateur crabbers say that the best time to catch crabs is in the months of the year containing ‘R’, but commercially, crabs are caught year-round, with the best and most plentiful available from mid-January until a few weeks after Easter.

Crabs are harvested commercially with pots and hoop nets, and the fishery is managed by quota limits. When buying from a fishmonger, look for bright-coloured shells with no cracks and all legs and eyes present. Store in a container covered with a damp cloth in the refrigerator; don’t store wrapped or covered with plastic.

A box of blue swimmer crabs will be sold to the highest bidder at the next SEAsonal SEEchange auction at 7am on Wednesday, March 30, at the Safcol Central Fish Market, 54-58 London Road, Mile End.


Blue swimmer crabs. Photo: supplied

SEAsonal SEEchange is an initiative of Wildcatch Fisheries SA, a collective of local fishermen who make the first box of seasonal produce available for sale at a monthly auction, with proceeds going to charity.

Wildcatch Fisheries SA executive officer Franca Romeo says people cooking crabs at home should use a large pot and fill it with enough water to cover the crabs. Bring water to the boil, adding a little salt and oil; when boiling, add crabs and boil for 10 minutes. Remove crabs from hot water and immerse in cool water to stop the cooking process and for easier handling when cracking open to remove the flesh.

“Crabs are best enjoyed with vinegar and salt and pepper, in a dipping sauce of melted butter, fried chopped onion and paprika, or in this classic crab pasta dish.”


Pasta with crab meat. Photo: supplied

Crab Pasta


Cooked crab meat from 3 to 4 crabs
1 medium onion, diced
1 to 2 chillies, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
Salt and pepper
White wine
Baby spinach


In a frypan, gently fry the onion in some butter. Add the chillies, garlic, salt, pepper and a little white wine. Add crab meat to heat through and turn off stove.

Boil spaghetti and add a small amount of olive oil when cooked. Add the spaghetti to the crab meat mixture with some baby spinach and combine. Serve with crusty bread.

Serves 4 to 6

For more information,  visit the Wildcatch Fisheries SA website or call 7221 1960.

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