Snow Crab, Sure. Ritz Crackers — Definitely!

Waiter, this dish tastes familiar to me ... what did you say it was?Photo: Melissa Hom

The icy waters off the Canadian Maritimes bring special bounty at this time of year, and right now, that takes the form of one of the biggest and best of all crab species: Chionoecetes opilio, or snow crab. These monsters, which can easily weigh between five and seven pounds each, are just beginning to show up on menus, David Pasternack of Esca tells us.

Were just getting it in now, Pasternack says. The meat is similar to what you would find in a lobster claw. Its bone white, and that has a sweet taste and a certain shreddiness to it. Escas method of cooking and serving the crabs couldnt be more understated. The place buys them fresh, steams them up, and then after picking the meat, stuffs it back in the shell along with small pieces of fresh sugar snap peas. And whats that on top? Could it be ? Yes! We put smashed Ritz crackers on top. It adds a lot of richness! Its not my recipe though; its an old New England thing. The full crab, served straight up (you dont need a dip) will be available at Esca tonight for $22. And its big enough for two.