This is a great time of the year (and the perfect location for us) for Maryland blue crab. If you live near the Chesapeake Bay and you have a hankering for some crab, you have three options: you can go to a nice seafood restaurant and pay a premium, you can go to a dodgy restaurant and get something for a little cheaper, or you can buy some crabs and enjoy them in the comfort of your home. For the most part, we go with option number three. Here’s a quick and easy way to steam Chesapeake/Atlantic blue crab.
some live Maryland blue crabs
two bottles of light beer
3/4 cup Old Bay seasoning
1/4 cup kosher salt
When choosing crab, the cost will be dependent on size and gender (males are meatier than females). Find a price that’s good for you, and plan on how many you’ll need. I usually think that four is a good number per person, especially if you are serving other sides. But if you’re looking to make an exclusive meal of them, most people can eat up to a dozen at once. When you get the crab home, place them in the fridge until you’re ready to cook them.
Pour two beers into the bottom of a large pot, and let it sit for about an hour to release the carbonation. You can add a little salt to speed it up. Mix the Old Bay seasoning with kosher salt. Some places that sell crab will sell their own seasoning, which is usually good, too. Place a steam rack in the pot, and start adding the crabs. They’ll be feisty, so use long tongs if you have them. They’ll naturally want to back themselves against the pot, so if done right, they’ll arrange themselves fairly neatly.
Sprinkle the seasoning mix over the crabs as you add them in layers, until the pot is full. Cover and steam them on mostly-high heat until they turn a bright orange, usually about 20-25 minutes. As far as how to eat them (or “pick” them, as it’s called here), there are plenty of YouTube videos out there for that; I’m still working on my own technique.