BBQ crabs were invented at Granger's in Sabine Pass, TX, during the late 1940's when one of their cooks seasoned a blue crab with some zestful seasoning and then deep fried it. The rest is history!
Granger's, a once-popular Sabine Pass roadhouse, was destroyed by fire in 1958. Many years later, Sartin's Seafood in Sabine Pass resurrected the tradition.
Unlike "Maryland Style" crabs where live blue crabs are first seasoned, steamed whole, then cleaned on-the-fly by the hungry diner, BBQ crabs are cleaned first, seasoned, and then deep fried.
And, contrary to the recipe's name, barbecue crabs are not barbecued. The name comes from the barbecue-like seasoning used to season them (originally Sexton's Alamo Zestful Seasoning was used.)
When the waitress delivers the steaming tangle of barbecue crabs and sets the heaping platter before you, there's no doubt where you are: Sartin's Seafood. The crabs are fat and full of sweet, rich meat and crusted with a red-pepper spice mix that sets a tenderfoot mouth afire.
Sartin's Seafood started in 1971 when Charles and Jerri Sartin opened a little restaurant (four tables inside; four tables outside) in front of the family's 65-foot trailer house in Sabine Pass, TX, and started serving seafood. It has been locally famous ever since!
Sartin's BBQ crab recipe calls for fresh hard-shell blue crabs to be cleaned and broken in half, dusted with their "secret" seasoning mix and then deep-fried.
Sartin's original recipe called for Sexton's Alamo Zestful Seasoning, but Sexton went out of business and they had to come up with a similar seasoning to use. In 1978 the Sartins' worked with Bolner's Fiesta Products to try and duplicate the Sexton formula. It took 28 tries to get it just right. They now buy 40-pound buckets of what's called Sartin's Seafood Famous BBQ Crab Seasoning.
Sartin's now has three locations, all of them family-owned. One in Nederland, one in Beaumont, and one in Houston. Kelli Sartin, the daughter of the founders, opened the Houston restaurant after her shop in Beaumont was destroyed by Hurricane Rita in 2005. The owners of the other two restaurants are Kim Lynch and Emily Summers. The original Sartin's in Sabine Pass closed in 1988.
Sartin's Seafood (Houston)
18023 Upper Bay Road
Owner: Kelli Sartin
www.sartins.com Sartin's Seafood
3520 Nederland Avenue
Owner: Kim Lynch
www.sartinsnederland.com Sartin's Seafood
12647 Highway 90
Owner: Emily Summers
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