Seafood scissors

August 2, 2009


seafood scissors


Phillips patent for fake lump crab meat

July 31, 2009

Below is the patent for a machine that takes crab meat and forms it into larger lumps.

United States Patent 7,390,248
Phillips June 24, 2008

Method for manufacturing formed lumps of meat


A formed lump of crab meat is manufactured by placing pieces of crab meat into a mold, compressing the crab meat and cooking the crab meat. The crab meat placed in the mold is a mixture of raw crab meat and cooked crab meat. The cooked crab meat has a texture and is placed in the mold so that the texture of the individual pieces are aligned. The formed lump is 100% crab meat. Inventors: Phillips; Stephen B. (Arnold, MD)
Assignee: Phillips Foods, Inc. (Baltimore, MD)
Appl. No.: 11/536,301
Filed: September 28, 2006

What is claimed is:

1. A method for making a formed lump of crab meat comprising the steps of: placing a mixture of raw crab meat and cooked crab meat into a mold; compressing the mixture; and cooking the mixture to make a formed lump of crab meat.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the formed lump of crab meat is 100% crab meat.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein the mixture of raw and cooked crab meat comprises: about 25% raw crab meat and about 75% cooked crab meat.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein the cooked crabmeat has a texture and wherein placing the mixture into the mold further comprises aligning the texture of the cooked crab meat in the mold.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein the cooked crab meat comprises pieces selected from the group consisting of broken jumbo crab meat, special crab meat and back fin crab meat.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein the raw crab meat comprises pieces selected from the group consisting of white crab meat, claw and claw knuckle.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the cooking step is approximately 7 minutes.

8. The method of claim 1, further comprising cooling the formed lump of crab meat.

9. The method of claim 8, further comprising removing the formed lump of crab meat from the mold after cooling.

10. The method of claim 8, further comprising trimming the formed lump of crab meat after cooling.

11. The method of claim 1, wherein the cooking step occurs in the mold.

12. The method of claim 1, wherein the formed lump weighs from about 6 grams to about 10 grams.


1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a method of molding pieces of meat, such as crab meat, into formed lumps.

2. Background Art

Jumbo lumps of certain meat, such as crab meat for example, are more commercially valuable and command a higher sales price than smaller lumps or loose flakes thereof. In the instance of crab meat, in order to get the jumbo lumps of meat from the two back fins of the crab, professional pickers are required who have acquired the skill of removing the jumbo lumps intact. Having professional pickers remove jumbo lumps intact is costly and time consuming, so processes for molding smaller pieces of meat together to create formed jumbo lumps have been developed.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,646,385 to Roberts et al. discloses feeding loose meat into a hopper which is then discharged into cavities of a mold plate for forming the loose meat into lumps.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,483,046 to Briddell discloses placing a mixture of partially cooked and substantially cooked crab meat into die cavities for molding the mixture of crab meat particles into a lump.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,863,017 to Yueh discloses preparing fabricated seafood products, such as shrimp and lobster tail. A mixture of partially cooked fish and a paste of finely comminuted fresh fish are formed into a desired shape.

The present invention differs from the processes described in the aforementioned patents in that formed lumps of pure meat are prepared without the use of a paste or binder containing other substances and the formed lumps are prepared using a mixture of cooked meat and raw meat.


In a preferred embodiment of the present invention a mixture of raw crab meat and cooked crab meat is placed into a mold, the mixture is compressed and the mixture is cooked to make a formed lump of crab meat.


FIG. 1 is a flow chart outlining the steps for manufacturing a formed lump of meat according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is plan view of an open mold for forming a lump of meat.

FIG. 3 is a plan view of an alternate embodiment of an open mold for forming a lump of meat.


The present invention can be utilized to mold pieces of crab meat or other seafood into jumbo formed lumps and is particularly useful in forming flakes of crab meat into formed jumbo lumps. As crab meat is the preferred species of meat, the invention will be described referring to crab meat. However, the invention is not limited to crab meat and is readily adaptable to any species of seafood, such as scallops or shrimp.

The method for making a formed lump of crab meat will be discussed with reference to the general outline presented in the flow chart of FIG. 1. It is noted that the flow chart of FIG. 1 is exemplary and can include additional steps, as needed or appropriate.

As indicated in step 100, pieces of crab meat are placed in a mold. FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary mold 208 for utilization in the present invention. Mold 208 has a lower mold 210 with a lower mold cavity 212 and an upper mold 214 with an upper mold cavity 216. While lower and upper molds 210, 214 in FIG. 2 only illustrate a single lower mold cavity 212 and a single upper mold cavity 216, lower and upper molds 210, 214 can have a plurality of mold cavity pairs to form a plurality of formed lumps in a batch as shown for example in FIG. 3. Lower and upper mold cavities 212, 216 are sized to the desired dimensions of the formed lump. It is preferred to form jumbo lumps of crab meat in the range of 6 to 10 grams in weight. The crab meat is placed in either lower mold cavity 212, upper mold cavity 216 or both.

Lower and upper molds 210, 214 preferably are made of stainless steel, although other materials known to a person of ordinary skill in the art could also be utilized, such as, for example aluminum or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Preferably, lower and upper mold cavities 212, 216 have non-stick surfaces such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Lower mold 210 and upper mold 214, are preferably connected with a hinge 218, however, other configurations known in the art can also be utilized in accordance with the present invention. Upper mold 214, also preferably has a clasp, clip or other closing means that attaches to lower mold 210 forcing upper mold 214 and lower mold 210 together, thereby providing pressure to the crab meat therein.

Crab meat placed in the mold is a mixture of cooked crab meat in the form of flakes and raw crab meat in the form of a paste. In a preferred embodiment, the mixture comprises about 25% raw crab meat and 75% cooked crab meat. In an alternate embodiment, all the crab meat placed in the mold can be cooked crab meat. The cooked crab meat can be selected from broken jumbo crab meat, special crab meat, back fin crab meat and undersized jumbo lumps. The raw crab meat can be selected from white crab meat, claw and claw knuckle. In a preferred embodiment, the flakes of cooked crab meat are lined up in the mold such that the texture of the flakes of crab meat are aligned in the same direction. This process is preferably done by hand because it results in a high quality formed lump. If the cooked crab meat does not have a red knuckle then a red knuckle from claw crab meat may be added to the mold. Subsequently a paste of raw crab meat is applied to fill the remainder of the mold cavities. It is also preferred that the formed lumps be 100% crab meat, so only crab meat is placed in the mold and no binder, fillers, starches or other substances, are placed in the mold.

In step 102, the crab meat is compressed between lower and upper molds 210, 214 to form the lump of crab meat to the desired shape by moving upper mold 214 about hinge 218 to place upper mold 214 over lower mold 210 or by otherwise moving lower and upper molds 210, 214 relative to one another to press the crab meat therebetween. The pressure causes the raw crab meat paste to stick to the cooked crab meat flakes and hold the formed lump together. Additional pressure may be applied to the mold 208 by an external force, such as, for example a pressing device. In a preferred embodiment the jumbo formed lumps of crab meat are formed in the range of 6 to 10 grams in weight.

In step 104, the crab meat is cooked to coagulate the crab meat to maintain the shape of the formed lump. The cooking step 104 can occur simultaneously with or after the compressing step 102. If the cooking step 104 occurs after the compressing step 102, the crab meat can be cooked either inside or outside the mold. In a preferred embodiment, the crab meat is compressed and then the compression is maintained during the cooking step. When a mixture of raw and cooked crab meat is placed in the mold the mixture is preferably cooked for approximately 5 to 7 minutes at approximately 100.degree. C. This cooking time and temperature is merely exemplary and can be varied as would be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art as long as the crab meat is coagulated. Cooking step 104 can be performed through conventional means, such as, for example, in an oven or boiling in water or steam.

In step 106 the formed lump of crab meat is trimmed to the desired shape. Preferably the trimming is performed after allowing the formed lump of crab meat to cool. The trimming can be performed using any conventional method, such as by hand with a knife. The cooling can occur before or after the formed lump is removed from the mold and can be performed through conventional means, such as, for example, air cooling or dipping the mold in cold water or a combination thereof.

It is to be appreciated that the Detailed Description section, and not the Summary and Abstract sections, is intended to be used to interpret the claims. The Summary and Abstract sections may set forth one or more but not all exemplary embodiments of the present invention as contemplated by the inventor(s), and thus, are not intended to limit the present invention and the appended claims in any way.

* * * * *


Crab performance art

July 30, 2009

A black mechanical crab circles a black office chair and a black brief case.  What oh what does it mean?  Very stylish and a little spooky. Crab art for crab art’s sake from artist Lars Brunstrom.

It won’t post the video here but click on the link to see it.  It’s cool.


The Battle of the Monkey and the Crab

July 29, 2009

This is sooooo cool.  It’s a Japanese fable.  See the referenced web site for more pictures of monkeys and crabs battling.

monkey crab cover


A monkey and a crab once met when going round a mountain.

The monkey had picked up a persimmon-seed, and the crab had a piece of toasted rice-cake. The monkey seeing this, and wishing to get something that could be turned to good account at once, said: “Pray, exchange that rice-cake for this persimmon-seed.” The crab, without a word, gave up his cake, and took the persimmon-seed and planted it. At once it sprung up, and soon became a tree so high one had to look up at it. The tree was full of persimmons but the crab had no means of climbing the tree. So he asked the monkey to climb up and get the persimmons for him. The monkey got up on a limb of the tree and began to eat the persimmons. The unripe persimmons he threw at the crab, but all the ripe and good ones he put in his pouch. The crab under the tree thus got his shell badly bruised and only by good luck escaped into his hole, where he lay distressed with pain and not able to get up. Now when the relatives and household of the crab heard how matters stood they were surprised and angry, and declared war and attacked the monkey, who leading forth a numerous following bid defiance to the other party. The crabs, finding themselves unable to meet and cope with this force, became still more exasperated and enraged, and retreated into their hole, and held a council of war.

monkey crab 1

Then came a rice-mortar, a pounder, a bee, and an egg, and together they devised a deep-laid plot to be avenged.

First, they requested that peace be made with the crabs; and thus they induced the king of the monkeys to enter their hole unattended, and seated him on the hearth. The monkey not suspecting any plot, took the hibashi, or poker, to stir up the slumbering fire, when bang! went the egg, which was lying hidden in the ashes, and burned the monkey’s arm. Surprised and alarmed he plunged his arm into the pickle-tub in the kitchen to relieve the pain of the burn. Then the bee which was hidden near the tub stung him sharply in his face already wet with tears.

Without waiting to brush off the bee and howling bitterly, he rushed for the back door: but just then some sea-weed entangled his legs and made him slip. Then, down came the pounder tumbling on him from a shelf, and the mortar too came rolling down on him from the roof of the porch, and broke his back and so weakened him that he was unable to rise up. Then out came the crabs in a crowd and brandishing on high their pinchers they pinched the monkey to pieces.

monkey crab2



Crab cake bling

July 28, 2009

crab bling2

Have you ever watched a crab on the shore crawling backward in search of the Atlantic Ocean, and missing? That’s the way the mind of man operates.
– H. L. Mencken

Crab cakes and Tony Danza bother me. I love crab meat – any kind of crab, any type of meat. It is one of the best ingredients on Earth, yet it is horribly misused. It is far superior to shrimp and second only to lobster in my love affair with exoskeletal meat muppets. I have never had a Maryland crab cake that measured up to the quality of the man ingredient.

It would be cool to have a beer with Tony Danza or maybe play foosball with him, but I don’t want to see him do Shakespeare, tap dance or do Tony Bennett’s act. Everything in its place. Somehow the humble crab cake has become Tony Danza as King Lear I prefer the Tony Danza from Taxi. I prefer crab cakes that are simple and authentic.

Tony-Danza-dancing ghost

Don’t try too hard to be young. Be who you are.

Everyone kept telling me, Just be yourself. Be yourself. I kept thinking, there’s got to be more to it than that!
– Tony Danza

The humble blue crab was a staple of the Chesapeake Bay area long before Europeans “discovered” it. The crab cake probably followed soon after the white devils arrived. There is a beautiful and intelligent recipe for crab cakes from 1660 in the amazing cook book by French-trained Englander Robert May.

Crab harvesting became a genuine industry as time went by and exploded when refrigeration became feasible. Accounts from the the 1930’s and 1940’s tell of bar owners giving away crabs in bars to keep people drinking. Do doubt, the crab meat made from the lesser types of meat were quite inexpensive also, Then as now the bigger pieces commanded higher prices and the type with smaller lump, claw and backfin meat were kept for the working class. The ubiquitous spice mix Old Bay formulated in the 1940’s was popular with tavern owners because it stimulated the thirst of beer drinkers and kept them in the bar.

Maryland crab cakes used to be for the hoi polloi, now they are faux hoity toity. The new driving force in demand and tastes and preferences for crab cakes is the hoity polloi.


So how did the lowly crab cake become an objection of almost religious veneration and conflict? Once the homely meatloaf of the sea, is now a luxury good. The homely girl with the nice personality is now the hot cheerleader – demand has increased and her currency has risen.

Crab cakes have become an objection of conspicuous consumption in Maryland. The American economist Thorsten Veblen developed the theory of conspicuous consumption to explain why people prefer more expensive versions of the same goods. Imagine someone ordering Grey Goose vodka for a dirty martini where they pour rancid olive juice into the most expensive vodka on the bar. A few quotes from Thor:

Conspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means of reputability to the gentleman of leisure.

The basis on which good repute in any highly organized industrial community ultimately rests is pecuniary strength; and the means of showing pecuniary strength, and so of gaining or retaining a good name, are leisure and a conspicuous consumption of goods

In order to stand well in the eyes of the community, it is necessary to come up to a certain, somewhat indefinite, conventional standard of wealth.

– Thorsten Veblen

crab w jewelry crv

Crab cakes started out as peasant food. Over time it developed a regional cachet. As incomes rose and working class people became middle class they clung to their roots and fetishized the crab cake. It seems very much like sports, the modern unthinking man’s religion. A local allegiance develops, a type of tribal identity and pride, something that the working man can afford. All good.

The addiction to sports, therefore, in a peculiar degree marks an arrested development in man’s moral nature.
– Thorstein Veblen

Haussner’s Restaurant’s menu from 1977 lists a crab cake sandwich as $2.75, the same as a sardine sandwich and a “hamburger sandwich”.

haussners77 date

haussners77 lunch cr

Adjusted for inflation a crab cake sandwich is $9.66, in 2009 dollars, which sounds about right. That seems a little steep for a sardine or hamburger sandwich. Hamburger sandwich? Adorable. Haussner’s was trapped in some kind of time warp. The point here is that a crab cake was not expensive if it was the same price as sardine sandwich or hamburger. Times have changed.

Let’s look at the change in the price of wholesale food ingredients in recent years, including crabs and shrimp. I chose shrimp because it’s a better substiutute for crabs than, say, eel or marizpan. From 1992 to 2006 the Producer Price Index (PPI) for food rose 26 percent. During the same period the price of shrimp decreased by 27 percent. The cost of crabs increased by 101 percent. The PPI for food and crabs has dipped in recent months, but the overall trends remain the same. The cost of crabs has increased at four times the overall rate of food inflation. So $5 of ingredients in 1992 would be $3.65 for shrimp and $10.05 for crab in 2006.

crab gif5

I used to be confused about the names of different crab meat types: lump, backfin, jumbo lump, collosal, and special. Here is Philips’ definitions of the different types of crab meat.

Here are the types and prices of Philips pasteurized crab meat (one pound) available at Giant:
Claw $15.98
Special $23.98
Backfin $31.98
Jumbo lump $39.98
Here is where it gets weird. Crab prices skyrocket and something that was once a staple of the hoi polloi now becomes a luxury item.

crab w fancylady 3548-vaf

Crab meat is a wonderful product. It is chock full of vitamin B-12, a supposed elixir of virilty and energy. One crab has over a hundred percent of the RDA of B-12 – the Viagra of the Bay. Only liver has more B-12 per ounce.

Crab meat is also high in EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid that has been linked to elevated mood and other positive mental and physical effects.

Crab meat has 42 percent more EPA than shrimp and 358 percent more than lobster. Salmon has very high levels of EPA, but it lacks the cachet of crabs and crab cakes in Maryland. Personally, I much prefer sharing some salmon belly sashimi with Kiki and a bottle of sake, but that’s me.

Despite the boost you might get from B-12 or EPA, they don’t explain why people prefer gigantic bland crab cakes. Those biochemical aspects have remained the same. Conspicuous consumption explains is best for me.

Finally, this is jumbo lump Tony Danza singing a patriotic song about America.  Not so tasty.


Increasing ocean acidity threatens crabs

July 28, 2009

crab gif5

Ocean acidity?  I’ve never heard of that. The basic premise is this: increased CO2 in the atmosphere leads to more being absorbed/dissolved in the ocean.  The lower pH interferes with the biochemistry of crabs, thwarting proper shell development.  Sounds reasonable.

CO2 is indeed acidic.  That’s one reason soda is bad for your digestion.  Did you know that mosquitos can smell CO2?  That’s how they find you.  But I digress …

Here’s an excerpt from a much longer article:

“Ocean acidification is global warming’s evil twin,” said Miyoko Sakashita, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity in San Francisco. “The EPA has a duty under the Clean Water Act to protect our nation’s waters from pollution. Today, CO2 is one of the biggest threats to our ocean waters.”

“The oceans are indeed becoming more acidic, as a result of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and that acidity represents a very real threat to much of the life in oceans, ranging from the smallest microscopic plants, to coral reefs, to things that form shells — mussels, oysters, clams — but even things like lobsters and crabs.

Scientists have expressed concerns that ocean acidification could have serious consequences for a variety of shelled creatures, including corals, crabs, sea stars, sea urchins and some plankton. High acid levels can prevent the formation of shell material and could disrupt the food web.

“We’ve only begun to scratch the surface in terms of really understanding the full range of the impacts of ocean acidification, and it also affects physiology, not just the making of shells and skeletons.”




King crab eating mussels

July 27, 2009

This is freaky.  And now I’m hungry for king crab legs and mussels.  My favorite is watching otters eat clams while lying on their backs using a stone to crack them open or did I dream that?