Foodways Texas Symposium

Yes, You Can—and Should—Barbecue Seafood

We suggest starting with Bryan Caswell's awesome barbecued crab recipe.

By Robb Walsh April 9, 2013

Goode Company Seafood grilled oysters

"Our Barbecue, Ourselves" was the theme of the 3rd Annual Foodways Texas Symposium held last weekend in Austin. For the first two days, the event was held at Sangerunde Hall, the old German singing society headquarters located next door to the venerable Scholz Garten.

Aaron Franklin's brisket was dinner on Thursday night, and Jesse Griffith's venison sausage with sauerkraut was the beer-friendly lunch the next day. One of the best bakers in Texas, David Norman of Austin's Easy Tiger, made a sourdough white bread for the brisket. The sausage was served with his pretzel bread and German rye.

Houston was well represented in the program, especially at dinnertime on Friday night, when barbecued Gulf seafood was the star of the show. Goode Company Seafood served barbecued oysters and barbecued shrimp. Jim Gossen of Louisiana Foods supplied some big, fat blue crabs. Houston chef Adam Saxenian barbecued the crabs according to chef Bryan Caswell's family recipe—the combination of chile pepper and orange marmalade make for a bold flavor. 

Jim Gossen making Barbecued Crabs

Chef Bryan Caswell's Family Barbecued Crabs

(From Texas Eats)
Makes 24 half crabs; serves 4

12 live blue crabs
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup Cajun seasoning

½ cup unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño chile, minced
3 tbsp. dark brown sugar
½ cup tequila
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup dark molasses
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup orange marmalade
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. Asian sesame oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. black pepper
Grated zest and juice of 4 lemons

Immerse the crabs in ice water for 5 to 10 minutes until they are limp. Put 1 crab, shell side up, on a flat surface. Hold down a flipper on the bottom left side of the crab with the thumb of your nondominant hand and rip off the upper shell from left to right with your dominant hand. Don’t be shy. It takes considerable force to get the shell started. Clean out the exposed guts and gills under running cold water, remove the reproductive organs, then break the crab in half with 1 claw on each half. This will expose the fleshy meat in the middle. Repeat with the remaining crabs.

In a large bowl, toss the crab halves with the olive oil and Cajun seasoning, coating evenly. Set aside until the fire is ready.

To make the glaze, in a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Do not allow it to brown. Decrease the heat to medium-low, add the garlic, chile, and seasoning, and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes, until the garlic begins to brown. Add the brown sugar and stir constantly for a few minutes, until the mixture caramelizes. Add the tequila and scrape up any brown bits from the pan bottom. Add the vinegar, molasses, soy sauce, marmalade, Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, salt, mustard, white pepper, and black pepper. Increase the heat to high and cook, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes, until reduced by half. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, remove from the heat, and let cool.

Prepare a grill for indirect grilling (with the heat on one side only). When the grill is heated evenly, put the halved crabs directly over the fire until they get hot and begin to sizzle. When the shells are hot, move the crabs to the cooler part of the grill grate and brush with the glaze. Grill the crabs, turning them every few minutes and brushing them with more glaze, until a crust begins to form. Move them closer or farther away from the fire to get the desired char. The crabs will be done in 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

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