Best Steamed Crabs In Ocean City Maryland – But when I say grumpy, I don’t mean grumpy or argumentative, although I’ve been accused of both at times.
Serve them with an ice-cold beer on a picnic table covered with old newspaper, and in my humble opinion, you’ve almost reached nirvana.
Best Steamed Crabs In Ocean City Maryland
But that’s because I come from Maryland, where steamed crab is more than just food – it’s a way of life. Marylanders have been eating steamed crab since early settlers paddled the Chesapeake Bay in 1634, and even earlier if you consider Native American tribes such as the Nanticoke and Powhatan.
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There was a time when almost no one outside of the Delmarva Peninsula – where Delaware, Maryland and Virginia collide on the eastern side of the Chesapeake – ate much crab, but that has changed in recent years. It’s not hard to get a decent crab cake in most American cities these days, but steamed crabs? That’s another story!
So whenever Lea and I visit my mom and dad on the east coast of Maryland, we go for steamed crab. Lea, a native Texan, had never eaten steamed crabs before she met me, but after 15 years of marriage, she can tear them up with gusto! She also likes that eating steamed crab goes well with her lower carb paleo diet.
, which is Latin for “tasty, beautiful swimmer”. But that’s a bite for a Marylander, so we just call them “blue crabs,” which makes sense because by the time they’re thrown into the pot, they’re actually… blue.
We like to think of blue crabs as our own, but the truth is they can be found from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico, and even as far south as Argentina! That’s good, because due to overfishing, most of the crabs we eat come from Louisiana! Never mind, they’re still blue crabs and no one makes them like they do in Maryland…sorry Virginia!
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Now, if you’re going to make steamed crabs, you’re going to need Old Bay seasoning. German immigrant Gustav Brunn created Baltimore’s Old Bay in the late 1940s and quickly became a staple in steamed crab. In 2006, the McCormick Spice Company – also from Baltimore – acquired the recipe and is now widely available. (According to McCormick, Old Bay is gluten-free!)
When we visit my parents in Ocean City, we usually buy crabs at a local place like this one: Crabs-to-Go.
Crabs-to-Go is a very busy place, especially in summer. Most customers want steamed crabs, so giant steamers run around the clock.
It’s best to place your order in advance to avoid long waits and check the price. As with many seafood, the price fluctuates depending on market conditions. Steamed crabs are usually sold by the dozen or by the corks. What’s a bushel you say? It depends on the size of the crab; for example, if you are buying Jumbo crabs (6 – 6.5” across the body), then a bushel can be anywhere from 60 to 72 Jimmies. Jimmie?? What is this? Well, that’s what crabs call an adult male blue crab; adult females are called “sooks”. Jimmies are bigger and meatier, so they’re better for steaming. Sooks are “harvested” by commercial processing plants and used as fresh or pasteurized meat.
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After ordering from Crabs-to-Go, we grabbed a large swath of industrial brown paper to use as a tablecloth (steamed crabs are very unpretentious) and headed home for our feast. After clearing the table, we laid down industrial brown paper and I threw out the crabs. The smell of fresh steamed Old Bay crabs and spices was both overpowering and intoxicating. (Note the Redbridge Gluten Free Beer!)
Our eldest son wasn’t thrilled to see the steamed crabs. He thought they looked like giant red spiders. I’m used to them, but I have to admit… a bit like that! To appease Ben, we bought him fried calamari, which he ate AT HOME, away from the creepy crabs.
Sweet Pea (also known as Nathaniel) was hesitant at first… After we told him that you eat crabs by smashing them with a wooden mallet, his enthusiasm returned. The first thing you do when you eat steamed crabs is tear off the large, front arms on your shoulder and open the claw.
Once you’re done with the claws, it’s time for the hind fin crab meat – THE BEST tasting part of the crab!
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Then insert a knife (or use your hands) between the upper and lower halves of the crab’s body,
You will probably want to eat “mustard”. It is a yellow, mushy substance usually found inside the trunk. Some people swear by it, but in the spirit of full disclosure I have to admit that I NEVER eat “mustard”. That’s because I know what “mustard” really is… and it’s kind of disgusting. Nuff said.
If you don’t want to eat “mustard”, go for the meat. After breaking the shell, scrape off the spongy, conical things; these are lungs and they are not very tasty. Beneath the lungs is a hard, pearly shell, and underneath it is crab meat. It takes some effort, but trust me, it’s worth it!
Then pull all the smaller legs out of the torso and suck the meat and juice from the shoulder blade. That’s all! Throw the remains of the carcass in the scrap heap, drink beer and catch another crab!
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I usually call it giving up after about 6 or 7 crabs, but sometimes I eat more. By the time everyone is done, you should have a hefty pile of dead crab parts and a very full stomach.
If you like seafood but have never tried steamed crab, I hope this piqued your curiosity. They are tasty, fun and 100% Paleo!
Purslane: Weed in the Morning, Haute Cuisine at NightHUGE Paleo & Wellness eBook Bundle Sale! Strictly Paleo PlanJoseph Deinlein, director of news at The Herald-Mail, shares with Michael D. Garcia, a government reporter overseeing how to harvest blue crab from Maryland.
Nothing evokes summer in Maryland quite like a bushel of steamed blue crabs, strewn across newspapers on an outside table, with a mallet and a can of Old Bay at the ready.
The Old Bay State
“Crab is still rare and very expensive,” said FranSciulla, owner of Schula’s Grill & Crab House in Hagerstown.
Nevertheless, “we can only hope that we can provide a good crab-picking experience for the customer once the weather warms up,” she said. “We know our customers like to sit for hours with brown paper and hammers, enjoying morsels of sweet Maryland crabs.”
For novices and transplants, crab picking can seem like a lot of work for lunch — especially if you’re already hungry.
But there is an art to it, and learning it is a rite of passage for natives … and a sign of true acclimatization for everyone else.
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And now that the summer season is behind us, there’s no better time to learn than the present.
The Chesapeake Bay Program, whose mission is to restore the basin that is home to these key shellfish, outlines the process step-by-step on its website.
It starts with gathering the necessary supplies (steamed blue crabs, knife, crab hammer, old newspapers, seafood crackers, paper towels, beer & mldr; strange that Old Bay has been omitted, but there is a link to the recipe on the company website at Old Bay Steamed Blue Crabs) and ends with “eat!”
“Just take the shell off the back. Cut off the legs and break the claws,” he advised. “.
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“If you like the fat in the crab – I love the fat – it’s in the corners of the shell,” he remarked, then “scrape the lungs.”
Then, “however you open the shell, you split it from the inside out; you split it towards the legs and fillet it,” he said. “It’s so easy to take out the meat that way.”
It certainly makes it look easy. No tools, no hammer, just bare hands. Picked and consumed in minutes.
“It will crack some cartilage,” he said, “but it won’t really break down. It will stay in place.”
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“Oh, no, no,” said Herzog. “We have customers, they will ask for Old Bay and they will dip it … some of them really like spices.
“Everyone likes their own, some people like butter. Some people like vinegar.” Chic’s also has its own spices.
“And they will dip them there; I think it just makes the whole experience that much tastier,” said Herzog. “Maybe they’ll get some spices, and next time they’ll want some vinegar.
“And then they’ll take that bite. Then they’ll say “oh my god, I want some butter with that.”
Get The Crackin’ At The Greater Ocean City Chamber Of Commerce’s 15th Annual Crab Feast
Chic’s Seafood, a Summit Avenue landmark with its iconic crab crawling across the roof, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Herzog’s stepfather began selling seafood in West Baltimore in 1965, then came to Hagerstown in the early 1980s.
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