Best Blue Crab In Baltimore – The Chesapeake Bay blue crab population was recently estimated at 300 million. For many years, it has been double that figure. Meanwhile, the greater Baltimore area has a human population of just 2.7 million. With this imbalance, it’s no wonder steamed blue crabs have been a Baltimore favorite for generations.
With its location on the banks of the Chesapeake, Baltimore became a major center for the crab industry. Restaurants and taverns appeared along the docks and wharves, specializing in steamed blue crabs and ice-cold beer. In fact, the famous Baltimore-based crab seasoning known as Old Bay was developed, in part, as a way to keep customers thirsty and ordering more beer.
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Eating blue crab the traditional Baltimore way is not for the faint of heart or for those who prefer to eat off white linen tablecloths. Instead, fried blue crabs are often piled in the middle of a paper-covered table. Eaters use small mallets, knives, and even their bare hands to open the hard shells and scoop out the tender meat inside. It’s a messy experience, but also a lot of fun, and quintessentially Maryland (crab cakes are also a regional specialty, but they don’t quite match the unique flavor of the ocean).
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There are dozens of famous and not-so-famous places around Baltimore that serve Chesapeake Bay blue crab, including Captain James Crab House, Nick’s Fish House and L.P. Includes steamers. Or head down the road to nearby Annapolis and have a great Maryland meal of steamed blue crab at the beloved Jimmy Cantler’s Riverside Inn.
Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab season runs from approximately May through October. Still, you’ll find steamed crab on the year-round menu at some establishments. That’s because the crabs are sometimes flown in from Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere — the Baltimore natives like to keep quiet.
One last tip before you get cracking: Feel free to wear a bib while digging into your steaming pile of blue crab. Just be aware that you will be marked as a tourist, because no self-respecting Baltimorean would ever die in a crab bib.
Are you a Baltimore Crabs fan? Vote for them here as your favorite iconic American food in the 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards contest. Every summer, people from near and far flock to the Maryland coast to get their fill of blue crabs. Here now, how and where is the crab season.
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Summer in Maryland isn’t summer without crabs. And not just any crab: we’re talking about the delicacy of the Chesapeake Bay’s delicate, sweet blue crab, whose Latin name Callinectus sapidus means “beautiful swimmer.” There are few things that excite Marylanders more than tearing into a bushel of red-shelled beauties full of crabmeat, or enjoying the flavor of fried softshells with ice-cold Nutty Boh.
Marylanders prepare hard shells and other seafood by steaming them instead of boiling them as is common on the East Coast and the rest of Louisiana. Marylanders will tell you that boiling makes crabmeat moist, not just wet. (Proponents of boiling argue that steaming pushes the internal temperature too high and dries out the meat.) But oddly enough, Marylanders complain that the seasoned boiling water makes the crab taste too seasoned—they Prefer variety in heat and seasoning that comes from flavor. The spice that rubs off their fingers onto the crab meat. As a result, in Maryland, steamed is usually the only option on offer.
Blue crabs can be found in waters as far north as Nova Scotia and as far south as Uruguay, but the crustacean’s strongest association has always been with Maryland. According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, about 50 percent of the nation’s blue crab harvest comes from Maryland waters.
And they are an essential part of the region’s culinary heritage. “Blue crab is part of the holy trinity of Maryland seafood, made up of oysters, rockfish and blue crab,” says Chef Spike Gjerde of Baltimore’s Woodberry Kitchen.
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Gjerd is the first Baltimore chef to win a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic, and was raised in Baltimore. He knows his crabs: “The blue crab is really unlike any crab in the world, the growing conditions and the estuaries we have here,” he says. “They are superior to any other crab in my opinion.”
Sloths may prefer large Dungeness crabs from the west coast, which are much larger and easier to eat. Many restaurants use cheap pasteurized crab from Asia for their dishes. But not all crabs are created equal. Gjerde notes that other types of crab lack the depth of flavor and delicate texture of blue crabs. “The weather has a lot to do with it,” he says. “The season usually starts around [April] and lasts until the cold weather arrives in November. Seasonality has certainly affected our appreciation for the blue crab over the years, and that’s why it’s Places what it does in the Chesapeake way. Life.”
According to Steve Wilnit of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Services, from a scientific standpoint, the need for hibernation is the main reason why Maryland crabs taste better than other types of crabs — and even better than blue crabs from other waters. happens Like other hibernating creatures, crabs need to build up fat reserves to sustain them during their dormant period, he explains. “It gives our crabs a buttery flavor that you won’t find anywhere else,” says Wilnit. “For someone who knows what they’re looking for, it’s possible to tell who’s from Maryland by sight, but mostly it will be by taste.”
So how does one look at a crab and know if it’s from Maryland? The color of the fat, often called mustard by locals, is a dark yellow, according to Frank Updike Sr., captain of Natural Light Charters, who leads chartered crabbing and fishing trips with his son Frank Jr. There is a method according to
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The easiest ways to make sure you’re getting Maryland crabs are to first ask, and secondly to visit restaurants that are True Blue-certified by the state of Maryland. Certification verifies through restaurant receipts that at least 75 percent of the crab or crabmeat used during the year came from Maryland.
But as Updike says, “Yes, Maryland crabs taste good. But even if a blue crab isn’t from Maryland, it’s still going to taste great.”
Many consider soft shell crabs a delicacy, and a way to enjoy crabs without the drudgery of picking them. A soft shell is any crab that has molted within the last 12 hours. During that time the shells are soft and papery, so they can be eaten whole, claw to claw, except for the gills and parts of the stomach. These parts are removed before cooking, so diners can eat it without leaving it.
Crabs typically molt 18 to 23 times during their lifetime, and they can only mate when a female is molting. Because the crab spends only 12 hours as a soft shell, crabbers watch closely for a sign that a crab is about to molt — the development of a line on the last leg, called the paddler fin, that starts from white. Happens and moves forward. pink and then red as it grows closer to molting.
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These pre-molting crabs, known as peelers, are usually kept in a special shedding tank until they emerge from their old shells. The then-prized softies are removed from the water to prevent their shells from hardening before cooking and eating.
Before finding their way onto the plate, the soft shells are usually fried or roasted with a seasoned batter. It’s hard not to love something deep-fried, but many natives find grilling a better option to not overpower the sweetness of the meat. Both methods keep the fatty mustard inside and usually result in a crab with juices.
In most Maryland seafood restaurants, soft shells are served as sandwiches with mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato or plain on a platter to be enjoyed with a fork and knife. But obviously many chefs have taken the classics further, putting them on top of broad soft shell sushi rolls as well as tacos and pizzas.
Maryland crab season begins in April and runs through December. But what is found in crab houses early in the season or in the winter is coming from North Carolina and Louisiana.
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Maryland crabs that are served in April and early May are usually those that stay north during the winter and dig themselves into the mud. Then around Memorial Day, the initial supply runs out, and the crabbers wait for the crabs that are still migrating their way up the bay.
While June to August are the most popular and tradition-filled times for eating crabs, September and October are the best times to get the biggest and fattest hard crabs at the best prices.
The Maryland soft shell season typically runs through mid-May
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