rock, sand, or bay crabs
There’s a rags-to-riches story behind the peekytoe crab, a favorite ingredient in high-end restaurants. These crabs, known more commonly as rock, sand, or bay crabs, used to be just a throwaway byproduct of the lobster industry. But that all changed when a marketing campaign by the Browne Trading Company in Portland, Maine, amped up the crab’s appeal (and its price) by giving it a stylish, new name: peekytoe.
The name is derived from the word “picked,” which is Maine slang for “pointed.” The crabs have legs with a sharp point that turns inward, a “picked toe.” In Maine, “picked” is often pronounced with two syllables, and eventually “picked toe” morphed into “peekytoe.”
The small crabs themselves are too fragile to ship live, so they’re cooked and picked prior to shipping. The delicate, sweet, white and pale-pink-speckled meat best lends itself to straightforward preparations where its flavor can really shine.