Question: We have She-Crab Soup. Is there a He-Crab Soup? (Asked by a crab-curious column reader.)
Reply: OK, come on! This isn’t from the guy who asked me if there were male ladybugs, is it? Well, just as there are male ladybugs (a.k.a. gentlemanbugs), there is He-Crab Soup, as well as She-Crab Soup. No soup gender discrimination here.
As most of us know, She-Crab Soup is a rich soup, similar to bisque or chowder, made with milk or cream and blue crab meat. It is thickened by heating, or with a puree of boiled rice. There can be variations in recipes. The soup may have a dash of dry sherry and include seasonings. She-Crab Soup is a specialty in the South Carolina Lowcountry and a frequent soup de jour in the coastal city of Charleston, which has a good supply of blue crab.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, She-Crab Soup is made with female crabs. He-Crab Soup is made with male crabs. That wasn’t difficult, but what’s the difference? The female crab has roe (eggs) and the male crab doesn’t. The flavorful orange roe is supposed to add a special flavor which the He-Crab Soup lacks. Supposedly, there is a poem (which I couldn’t find) titled, “The He-Crab’s Lament: Oh Woe! No Roe!” (The roe from the sturgeon (fish) is used to make caviar, which is a delicacy and is priced as such.)
So, what have you been making? She-Crab Soup, or He-Crab Soup? Well, better check the crab. Look at the underside. The female has a broad, triangular-shaped area in the center of the shell, while the male has a distinctive elongated marking in the center.
What if you’re stuck with a male crab? Can you spice up your soup to compensate? I read where one chef suggested crumbling up the yolks of hardboiled eggs in the soup. If that doesn’t work, go out to eat.
C.P.S. (Curious Postscript): “A well-adjusted person is one who makes the same mistake twice without getting nervous.” — Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804)