Market Name: Rock crab
Scientific Name: Cancer irroratus
Common Name: Peekytoe crab, Atlantic rock crab, bay crab
Flavor: Mild
Texture: Delicate

Once considered “trap trash” (unwanted bycatch in the lobster fishery), the peekytoe crab has become coveted table treasure, thanks to a Maine seafood entrepreneur’s clever marketing campaign and the species’ delicate, sweet flavor. Known in Down East Maine dialect as “picket toe” or “picked toe,” the crab was dubbed “peekytoe” by Rod Mitchell of Browne Trading Co. in Portland, Maine. Novelty and quality combined to make the new product a smash hit. Because peekytoe crabs cannot be shipped live, the meat must be meticulously hand picked. As a result, the crab is the basis for one of the few “cottage” seafood industries left in the United States. Only a handful of processors in Maine and Canada specialize in peekytoe, which only adds to the product’s allure. Although technically a rock crab species found from Labrador to Florida, “peekytoes” originally referred only to rock crabs caught in Down East Maine’s Penobscot Bay. However, as peekytoe fever caught on with chefs and diners, sourcing expanded to include rock crabs from Nova Scotia to Rhode Island. There is no dedicated peekytoe fishery; the crabs are still a lobster-fishery bycatch, with peak availability in summer.

Product Profile:
Peekytoe is a smaller crab than Jonah, with claws too small to sell whole. Unlike the Jonah’s white meat, cooked peekytoe meat is pink or cream with reddish-brown highlights. The crab has a delicate, sweet-salty flavor and is lighter in texture than Jonah crab.

You Should Know:
Though rock crab is found from Labrador to Florida, “peekytoe” is the new star of the species. The marketing moniker applies to small rock crabs caught off New England and Canada and does not include Jonah crabs or rock crabs from other regions.

Cooking Tips:
Peekytoe lends itself to gourmet salads and appetizers and simple treatments. In the crab’s home state of Maine, the meat is most often mixed with mayonnaise and served in crab rolls or prepared as crab cakes. Peekytoe meat can be applied to all recipes calling for crabmeat, including chowders, casseroles, stir fries and dips. As the meat comes cooked, heat through only as necessary for hot recipes to preserve the delicate flavor and texture.

Cooking Methods: Boil,Poach,Steam

Substitutions: Jonah crab, Dungeness crab, Stone crab

Primary Product Forms:
Fresh: Cooked, picked meat
Frozen: Cooked, picked meat

Global Supply: