The state of Maryland should open a crab-themed theme park, funded by taxpayers. That’s how much we like crabs. I’m thinking a crab rollercoaster where riders sit sideways. Crab-flavored cotton candy. A ball pit filled with live crabs for children.
My sister’s boyfriend’s family has a bay house where they pig out on crabs as often as possible, with obligatory pitchers of Bud Light.
For my birthday he gave me a big freezer bag full of crabs with…
…written in pen on the bag. My boyfriend and I sat there destroying these guys with mallets, eating them ice cold from the fridge, doused with copious amounts of Old Bay-seasoned melted butter. We were also probably a little drunk at that point.
In my all white, pristine apartment. Don’t do what I did.
Summer is coming up. And to that end, here are some recommendations for a crabby extravaganza!
That yellow bile you get when you break the crab in half is godly. Suck the juice out every claw (leg?) you pull off at the joint. You can eat the shell of some of these softer appendages, if you’re also a fan of eating the tails off of shrimp (a-la shrimp cocktail).
Here’s a short video showing how to correctly dismantle the body.
Serve these with beers poured from pitchers into pre-chilled beer mugs. List of Maryland-based brews here.
Eat outside because, please. If you live in a city like I do, I would probably find a wooden table at a nearby park.
You only really need mallets and tiny forks for meat retrieval. I never end up using the shellfish crackers. Put newspaper or some kind of durable paper down before you heave them across the table steaming hot out of the pot.
Put lots of melted butter, lemon wedges (for masking post-crab eating finger smells), malt vinegar, hot sauce, cocktail sauce and old bay on the table. Don’t forget the paper towel rolls either, or the big bowl for shells and carcasses.
And then, prepare to get flecks of crab shell in your hair, folks.
To quote a scene from Wedding Crashers, a ground-breaking motion picture that forever redefined film in America –
*bro catches touchdown pass*
Crabcakes and football, that’s what Maryland DOES!
I N G R E D I E N T S
The recommended amount of crabs to serve per person is anywhere from 8 to 12. A bushel is 7 to 8 dozen blue crabs. The recipe below would serve 4 people, so adjust accordingly when you order the crabs.
- 1 / 2 bushel live Maryland blue crabs (approximately 48 crabs)
- 3 lemons, halved
- 4 -7 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning, plus additional for sprinkling after being boiled
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 sticks melted, clarified butter*
- Enough water to fill the pot 2 / 3 of the way full
*To clarify butter, put the desired amount of butter in a shallow saucepan and melt until the solids separate from the golden liquid beneath, and with a large shallow spoon, remove the fat solids from the top. Reserve the remaining liquid.
D I R E C T I O N S
- Fill a 6 quart pot with water 2 / 3 of the way full. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, the lemon halves, and 4 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning to the pot, adding an additional 1 tablespoon with each new batch of 12 crabs that’s added.
- Submerge the 12 live crabs in the water, one by one, making sure to keep the claws intact.
- Cook each batch for 10 minutes.
- Once cooked, carefully remove the crabs with tongs to a very big bowl or several large bowls (whatever you have on hand), sprinkling with additional Old Bay seasoning as you finish each batch.
- Serve immediately with the clarified butter and optional Old Bay seasoning, malt vinegar, hot sauce and cocktail sauce, as desired.
O P T I O N A L
- Old Bay seasoning
- Malt vinegar
- Tabasco Hot Sauce
- 2 lemons, quartered
- Bottled cocktail sauce*
*If you prefer to make your own cocktail sauce, mix 2 parts ketchup to 1 part prepared horseradish. Add a squeeze of lemon juice or Tabasco sauce for an extra kick.