It’s been all over the news, newspapers, and social media in recent weeks. It is currently one of the most popular and speculative issues in Italy. Yes, it’s the deadly Blue Royal Crab (Callinectes sapidus).
The most contentious concerns in this regard concern the preservation of the ecosystem, ethology, and the ethical values of those who are called to find a solution to the current predicament.
But what do we Italians, famed for our culinary tradition and culinary expertise, do with blue crab? Not by chance, TasteAtlas, one of the most respected guides on this topic, has ranked Italy #1 in the world’s best kitchens for 2022. Is the alien crustacean (as it is commonly referred to in Italy) beloved by our cooks, or does it pale in comparison to the well-known shellfish sauces?
The Dangerous Blue Crab Affair (in Brief)
We had already met what was then a new species to us Mediterranean countries in the early 1950s. Anyway, until 2023, it was nothing alarming. The big crustacean native to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean has made its way to our waters, where it finds some of its favorite prey served on a silver plate.
The lands surrounding Venice’s lagoon are the most vulnerable, both in terms of fish and biodiversity. The Blue Crab has access to our valuable mussel and clam farms, threatening the local seafood economy and the vital history of our indigenous species. The lagoon settlement of Comacchio, commonly known as the little Venice, is the capital of the Po Delta Park and a breeding ground for the alien crab infestation. As well as the Sacca di Goro and the mouth of the Po’, where crab sightings are now the norm and its spread is unabated.
The push of the government
We are still defining the adoption of new rules that can regulate the market to counteract the deterioration of the ecosystem and protect the income of our fishermen’s fish supply chain. In the same month, we’ve gone from a policy of releasing caught fish back into the sea to mass murdering in landfills.
We now know that the government has set aside EUR 2.9 million to fund its collection and disposal, permitting the use of pots, baskets, and gill nets within 0.3 miles (0.48 km) of the coast and near the mouths of rivers.
Unless Callinectes sapidus is put on the list of invasive alien species, marketing is not currently restricted. This chapter appears to be closed until 2024.
One simple and quite popular solution for us to solve both of our Italian difficulties persists today: eating Blue Crab. It can transform from a threat to a delectable culinary opportunity.
The most popular first course among Italians is seafood
But, returning to our beginnings, the blue crab is indigenous, and it was not always simple to find. For these reasons, it does not appear in our favorite culinary creations, but this may soon change. Here are just a few of the dishes that the blue crab must compete with before becoming a regular in our kitchen.
- Paccheri with ragù of fish (Paccheri con ragù di pesce)
One of the most famous seafood staples in Italian cuisine. The clam, a favored victim of the blue crab, is the undisputed star, along with fresh mixed fish such as mussels, cod, shrimp, and octopus. Browning fresh fish and then bathing it in white wine make the meal creamy and powerful. Try it!
- Linguine with lobster sauce (Linguine all’astice)
We eat it primarily during the Christmas season as is customary, but nothing prevents you from eating it whenever you choose. A simple dish that includes lobster, whiskey, and tomato sauce.
- Spaghetti dipped in squid ink (Spaghetti al nero di seppia)
This is a gourmet dish, more refined and nuanced, and not for everyone’s taste. Cuttlefish is commonly utilized because it produces more ink, usually known as black, than other cephalopods like octopus, squid, or squid.
The flavor and salinity of this decadent dish are provided by cuttlefish ink, and spaghetti, of course, cannot be overlooked in a fish dish.
… but what about the blue crab?
Although it is not widely known in our kitchens, we Italians are really skilled at seizing new culinary chances. This is why the web is flooded with blue crab recipes, even though it is not yet well-known and may never be. Its taste is claimed to be similar to Norway lobster, so fresh and with real sea calls, but we will have to wait and see.
Here is an extremely simple DIY recipe that combines the powerful flavor of crab with the number one Italian noodle par excellence: spaghetti.
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