Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How to Steam Maryland Blue Crabs

Blue crab meat is sometimes compared to lobster for its delicate flavor and tender texture. Maryland is renowned for its superb blue crabs, and in fact the blue crab is the official State Crustacean (I had no idea that states had official crustaceans, but apparently at least Maryland does).

The best way to enjoy Maryland blue crabs is to buy them live and steam them with a good seafood seasoning, then crack the shells and claws to pick out the tender morsels of crabmeat. Sure, this may be a messy affair, but as anyone who has eaten freshly-caught and steamed blue crabs will tell you, it's worth the effort and the mess. To make the steaming and eating easier, you'll want to use a large two-part steamer pot that has a removable steamer "basket" (basically a perforated "pot" that fits inside the larger "boiler pot" with about an inch to spare at the bottom of the boiler pot), crab mallets and crab knives. And make sure to have plenty of paper towels or napkins handy!

To steam the crabs: Prepare the pot by placing the boiler pot on your stove or grill and adding just enough water, vinegar and flat beer in equal parts to cover the bottom by half an inch. Bring this liquid to a full boil. Layer the live crabs in the steamer pot and add crab boil seasoning to taste. Cover the steamer and place it inside the boiler pot. Let the crabs steam until they're bright red, approximately 20 minutes. Uncover pot and use tongs to remove the steamed crabs from the steamer basket--be careful, because they'll be hot! Allow to cool to the touch before shelling.

To eat the crabs: Cover your table with heavy brown paper (e.g., torn-flat paper bags) or newspapers. Set out the crab mallets, crab knives, paper towels, bowls of melted butter for dipping, and extra crab seasoning for folks who like to dip the chunks of crabmeat in butter plus seasoning. Dump the hot crabs in the middle of the table, and let everyone grab a crab, crack, dip and enjoy.

For more information and to buy live Maryland blue crabs, simply click here. And you can buy crab mallets & crab knives, too.

Zestfully yours,

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