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Peekytoe Crab Information

Peekytoe crabs are a variety of Atlantic rock crab

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Peekytoe Crab Information

The peekytoe crab story is an interesting one. These are Maine rock or sand crabs which were pretty much a throwaway by-product of lobster fishing before a brilliant marketing move changed their name to "peekytoes" around 1997. They are classified as Cancer irroratus, also known as bay crab and rock crab.

Nowadays this crab is highly sought by the most discriminating chefs around the world.

There are a couple of theories on how it became known as "peekytoe crab." Peekytoe is the slang name for these crabs in the lobster fishing villages of Maine. Rod Mitchell, the owner of the Browne Trading Company, a seafood wholesaler in Portland, is credited with the marketing genius of calling them by their slang name.

Peekytoe comes from "picked toe" -- '"picked'' pronounced as if it had two syllables (rhyming with picket) -- because the crab leg has a very sharp point that turns inward. ''Picked" is Maine slang for pointed. Others called them "picket toe." The Maine accent no doubt contributed to the resulting name of "peekytoe." You will even find them called "picky toe" on some menus.

Other than being a specific type of Atlantic rock crab, the other thing that sets this crabmeat apart is the care with which they are handled, cooked, and picked. They cannot be shipped live. Picking over the meat to remove all bits of shell and strict adherence to freshness makes good pickers very much in demand by chefs.

Peekytoes are caught in waters 20- to 40-feet deep, in traps baited with bits of fish. They are not to be confused with Jonah crabs. The meat is pink with a sweet, delicate flavor. Maine crab, stone crab or Dungeness crab (see crab varieties) can be substituted for peekytoe as long as it is fresh and unpasteurized.

More About Crabs and Crab Recipes:

Crab Selection and Storage
What is a she-crab? FAQ
Crab Varieties
Crab Terminology
Peekytoe Crabs
Crabs and Health
Crab History
Crab Recipes
Crab Photos © 2008 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.

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