Crabs, Crabs and Mo Crabs

I consider myself a crab connoisseur of sorts, so much that I decided to blog about them.  I absolutely LOVE eating crabs; I love ritualistically cracking each red-shelled appendage and smiling from ear to ear at the beautiful, meaty reward. Not only are they oh, so scrumptious, but it’s a way to spend time and fellowship with those you love.

The thought of sitting in the warm sun with a newspaper lined table adorned with bushels of glistening crabs lying there with the aromas of spicy Ole Bay (I know its “Old” but I like to say “Ole”) seasoning dancing in the air. I get giddy just thinking about it!

Ive been cracking crabs ever since I was 10 years old. My mother taught me early on how to pick crabs properly. I grew up in Baltimore City and eating crabs was mandatory each summer. My mother would find the nearest crab truck and order dozens of live crabs. She would get them home and break out that crab pot and that’s when we knew it was about to go down!! My brother and I would stand there watching as she took a huge long spoon and began scooping them out the bag. They would fight her and link claws and battle to the end before they willingly got in that pot. I would get scared when one would escape and crawl around the kitchen floor; my mother would scramble and capture him and in the pot he goes. I would be sad thinking about how these crabs were mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers and how they fought so hard to stay out of that pot. Once that Ole Bay and Beer steamed aroma began hitting the air, all sad thoughts dissipated. I was ready to THROW DOWN!!

As May approaches, my mind shifts to scheduling good crab sittings this summer. Ive decided to post about my love affair with crabs, preparing for crabs, how to eat crabs and where to buy good crabs in the DC/MD area.

Crab Season

LyndiLeary-2
Photo courtesy of Lyndi Leary Photography

The crab season in Maryland starts in April and ends in December.

  • Crabs are usually less expensive at the beginning of the season.
  • Crabs harvested in June through August are the most flavorful.
  • The largest crabs are found in September and October.

Purchasing Crabs

I personally like to purchase crabs already steamed and ready to eat outside in the comforts of home. Crabs can be purchased from restaurants or crab houses. They can be purchased alive or steamed.

Here is a list of my favorite crab spots in the area:

Mikes Crab House, Annapolis, MD

Mike Crab House

Captain John’s Crab House, Newburg,MD

20171006-204645-largejpg

District Wharf, Washington, DC

nighttime-at-maine-avenue-fish-market-on-the-wharf_ddc-photo

Harris Crab House, Grasonville, MD

harris-crab-house-800x600.jpg

Preparing For Crabs

Line That Table

Using newspaper, cover your entire table. Lining your table makes the meal less worrisome and clean up easier afterwards. Crabs are messy boots!!

Dip Set, Dip Set, Dip Set

Do you use dips for your crabs? Some people do and some people dont. My favorite dip is melted butter with Ole Bay and Hot Sauce. Yum!! Some people like Vinegar, while others opt for Mayonnaise based dips.

Tools

Mallets are sometimes used for picking apart crabs. I personally like to use my hands. Some people use gloves ( I think those people are weird).

Beverages

I love drinking coolers while enjoying my crabs, however, the beverage of choice with crabs is always BEER. I love my crabs steamed in beer, but I dont drink beer. Last year, my sister in law introduced me to pairing my crabs with wine. It was actually good; who knew that pairing wine with crabs was a such thing (New Blog Post Coming Soon: Pairing Wine with Crabs).

Eating Crabs

Choose the biggest, meatiest looking crab in the bunch and go for it!!

Remove the claws and legs. Throw away the small legs. Reserve the large claws because they can be eaten later.

  • Some of the small legs have enough meat in them to be eaten. Check first before throwing them away.
  • Use your hands to separate the shells. Throw way the orange top shell. Keep the apron, which is the underside of the crab.
Pull back the apron. Flip the cooked crab on its shell. The belly should be facing up. Use your hands, a paring knife, or even a claw to pull the apron back. Put your tool of choice under the apron, lift the apron, break it off, and then discard it.
  • Male crabs have a thin apron. A female crab’s apron is wider and rounder (Female crabs are the BEST!!)
  • Remove the gills (dead mans fingers), they are not edible.

Remove anything that does not look appetizing. The yellow “mustard” or “crab poop” is called the hepatopancreas, which is a main component of the blue crab’s digestive system. It is edible and considered a delicacy to some, but often thrown away. Listen, its good, dont debate me on this.

Finally, break the crab in half and pick out as much meat as possible!!!
LyndiLeary-4
Photo courtesy of Lyndi Leary Photography
Do you have a favorite place where you purchase crabs? What’s your sauce of choice for your crabs? When does crab season start for you?
Id love to hear from you!