“If you can’t beat ’em, EAT ’em!”

That’s how marine educator and Wells resident Carol Steingart summarizes the idea (capitalization and explanation point and all) of eating invasives, in this case green crabs. The creatures originate in Europe but of late threaten Maine’s soft-shell clamming industry and eelgrass. Scientists blame warming waters, which make the livin’ easy for these crabs.

For the annual meeting of the Gulf of Maine Marine Education Association scheduled for last Thursday, titled “Green Crabs Wreck Havoc,” Steingart wanted to serve the crabs to show that “EAT ’em!” mantra in action. (She attributes the phrase to John der Kinderen, whose Arundel-based business Waste Not, Want Not is looking for ways to extract and use the meat from these crabs.)

The weekend before the meeting, Steingart traveled to Long Island, New York, for cooking tips. There, she watched several chefs from China, Spain and the Philippines – nations where the green crabs, shells and all, are considered delicacies – cook the crustaceans. Back home, she procured some 40 pounds from a Brunswick fisherman and spent Wednesday in the kitchen.

“I tried picking out the meat today, and it was incredibly difficult because they are so small,” she emailed us. “Instead, I will incorporate their bodies (shell and meat) into the appetizers and soups, like I watched the three chefs do. They all prepared the live crab the same way – by removing the top shell, the tail flap, the mouth part, and the gills, all while it was still alive. I sucked up the courage to do this, and with the help of gloves I’ve become pretty efficient.”

Steingarten sautéed a batch of crabs with ginger, sesame oil and soy sauce; another with coconut milk; and a third Spanish-style, with Goya seasoning, white wine and a splash of lemon. She made a seafood stock and a thick, yellow corn chowder in which she plunked crunchy, freshly sautéed green crabs.

“I just wish that restaurants or even fish stores or somebody would say, ‘This is a way we can prepare these that is really delicious. And we’re doing something great for the environment too,’ ” she said.

Earlier in the week, Steingart, who runs Coast Encounters, a business that guides people on explorations of Maine’s coast, ran into a snag. Hotel rules, it turned out precluded the crabs she’d gone to such trouble to cook from being served at the Hilton Garden Inn in Freeport, site of the association’s annual meeting. Steingart deftly steered a new course.

“We will be having a tailgate sampling of the dishes at the field trip test site in Freeport before,” she emailed. “I am literally going to be operating from my car spooning out corn-and-crab chowder and homemade crab broth with mixed veggies and rice. That might be a sight to be seen at 3 p.m. in Freeport by the Haraseeket Lunch and Lobster dock.”

Source editor Peggy Grodinsky can be contacted at 791-6453 or at:

p[email protected]

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