A fishy problem

Hubby has asked me if I can buy him a dressed crab. I have no idea if this is even available in France and, if it is, what to ask for. Does anyone know please?

I can imagine asking for crabe habillé (hubby’s genius suggestion of what to ask for) and getting laughed out of the shop. :grinning:


Dressed crab - crab with all the bad bits taken out…often the good parts left in the shell.

A version of “dressing” from Delia.

not sure if this website was translated from English to French originally , or always was in French … but they do use the term crabe habillé

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Thank you Glenn. I guess it does translate then.

However, not doing the job myself. It will have to come prepared or he will go without. :slightly_smiling_face:

Good luck Mandy

Crab and a plethora of fishy goodies are often dished up for us… and we struggle (to the amusement of our friends). There they are cracking, hacking, sucking and gobbling… and I am trying to locate a reasonable mouthful of something tasty.

I adore Cromer Crab… but have not found anything to match it here. Instead I have developed a taste forshrimps, whelks, mussels, cockles etc…and oysters (sometimes).

I’ll be interested to hear how you get on with your quest… :relaxed:

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Having been brought up on a South East Devon seaside town, there were several skills of preparing seafood passed down to me. Most I remember, with the (almost) sole exception of dressing a crab.

It was not something i carried out regularly at all; but apart from all the legs…the main part was fairly quick and not too time consuming. we always left the legs/claws to those who would eat them to navigate.

never keen on whelks/mussels… winkles i liked with salt/pepper and vinegar… used to catch our own prawns too.

Thanks Glenn and Stella. I was born in East London and we used to go to various traditional shellfish stalls where you would get tiny plates of cockles, winkles, muscles, whelks etc and we would cover them with salt, pepper and vinegar. My absolute favourite though was jellied eels and I miss them so much. I always have to have them when I go back to the UK. In my memory it was always winter and always Sunday. We left the East End when I was 8 so maybe these are false memories.

We did continue the Sunday tradition though by going to Leigh-on-Sea in Essex where there were lots of shellfish stalls near the beach and it was there that I first had crab. Lovely memories of family.

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Born in London… my extended family would holiday briefly, jam-packed in a bungalow at the seaside. I recall shrimps, smelling of the sea, buckets of them and all the family up to their elbows, shelling them and handing out the succulent bits…to us smaller ones…that flavour has never been surpassed. :hugs:

Years later, I recall lobster just one time… in Cornwall… must have been cheap as chips as we four kids had half a one each… probably a local catch, bought at the shoreline.

Mother in Law loved jellied eels, although I was not a fan. Subsequently, in Arras… I ordered Queen of the River…(rough translation)… and it turned out to be eel… prepared in some fabulous way… and I almost had to defend my plate from my fellow diners who wanted to try it. :yum:

Crabe paré I think, or could try crabe pret à manger, crabe déjà préparer? I’ve seen them in fishmonger but being cautious with shellfish tend to wait until I find live crabs.

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I have never seen a crab served up in France… as I would expect to have it in Norfolk…or anywhere else in UK…

Yes, the crabs here are cooked… but generally come as part of an enormous mixed seafood platter… and weapons of war are supplied :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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My elderly neighbour took me to a local stream to fish for ecrevisses (fresh-water crayfish), a local delicacy (!).

You set a series of crafty baskets, baited with a fish head, on the bed of the stream, and within minutes the crayfish appear from under stones and weeds, and scuttle across the riverbed to enter the baskets. Some of them appear slightly suspicious at first, but with their salivary glands working overtime, they usually succumb to greed, and wriggle in to the traps. A trap will attract up to ten of the rather repellent palm-sized creatures. None of those trapped seem to have the presence of mind to warn others to stay away, though.

Taken home in a bucket they are still alive when they reach the scullery, to have some rather painful looking genital equipment extricated prior to the boil in a cauldron of simmering stock. It’s all seemed a bit gruesome to me, but I held my nerve and avoided calling out “mais elles vivent toujours!” like a wimp.

When boiled to death, they quickly turned a startling beetroot red colour, whence comes the idiom “rouge comme une ecrevisse”. Only the claws yield much (very little) edible flesh, but at least they are free, if you have a river-fishing licence.

Perhaps, Glenn, you can enlighten me about what it is that has to extracted before cooking, and why it has to be done while the pathetic thing is still alive? It looks barbarous to a city-boy, and spoils one’s enjoyment of the tit-bit rather.

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Thank you Jane. Will write all this down and take it with me.

Or failing all that, then just chair de crabe cuit? We live just about as far away from the sea as you can get in France, so perhaps that’s why we have seen prepared crabs as well as the cooked ones whole. It’s rare that we get live crabes, lobsters or other critters - apart from oysters of course.

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It is their gut you take out, you remove it because it probably tastes of mud and carrion :blush::fried_shrimp: and while it is still alive a) because nobody feels sorry for arthropods :persevere: and b) because then you are relatively sure the meat won’t taste of the aforementioned mud and carrion.
They call it castrating but it is really drawing à la mediaeval punishment.

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Chair de crabe in a tin is your friend, Chatka brand is the one to go for, very nice and no wrestling with dead men’s fingers etc


Seeing as how we get offered crab so often… and along with this Thread… I have searched, found and ear-marked this Youtube… which shows me clearly how to go about it next time around. I reckon I shall amaze our friends… :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi Peter,

I have never caught/bought/prepped crayfish before…but the biological makeup is very similar to prawns, in that the digestive tracts run down the length of the creature between head and tail.
You can remove them prior to cooking; some do this after.
In the case of prawns, before cooking strip off head and shell, slit down the back with knife and you see the “vein” or tract…just pull out. Crayfish i have seen them remove the parts after cooking.

In the old days we never used to remove these “veins”… but then again our prawns were not the massive types on steroids you see these days., and none of us died from it. Maybe Crayfish are different in that respect.

Crab you should definitely “dress” as will ( can) make you very ill.

Found a Youtube for Crayfish ,…


If you go fishing for them make sure you eat loads of the encroaching non-native ones who are muscling the locals out of their habitat. It isn’t often you actively do a good deed by eating something delicious. In case you need it here is a recipe for mayonnaise, you will need a stick-mixer:
Put a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of mustard, a good pinch of salt, pepper, the juice of half a lemon in a jug the stick mixer will fit into and swirl it around to dissolve the salt.
Add an egg
Add about 25 to 30 cl of oil
Put the stick mixer in the jug right to the bottom, whizz.
Jig it up and down a bit.
You now have mayo.

If you make it without the condiments it is lovely for your hair, rinse it with lukewarm water.

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Crabs are a big Brexit problem for Cornish fisherman. They catch a lot of spider crabs and as there is no local market they ship them over to Brittany where they are very much a delicacy. They are keeping their fingers crossed that this trade will remain tariff free.

Oh Vero… that took me back a couple of years… :relaxed:

Alain was showing us how to make mayonaise. He carefully separated the yolk from the white. I asked what he would do with the white… Just chuck…, he said… we’ve lots of eggs.

He strode purposefully over to the sink and chucked the yolk into the “rubbish” bowl… on top of the coffee grounds.

We watched in amazement…for a second…then we all burst out laughing.

Fortunately, they did have lots of eggs… so the mayonaise was made… and tasted wonderful …:grin::yum:

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