Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to Cook Maryland Blue Crabs

Serving Maryland blue crabs is an annual tradition for residents around the state. These delicious crabs are among the most famous crabs in the world.  Crabs are usually available from local seafood markets, wholesalers or even direct from commercial watermen.

Most suppliers offer crabs either live and ready to cook, or already steamed. Pre-cooked crabs are a good option in some cases, but for the freshest possible crab feast, nothing beats preparing and cooking crabs at home and serving them hot.

Before cooking crabs, they should be inspected and rinsed, but never allowed to sit submerged in water as this can kill them. Maryland blue crabs can be cooked in a variety of ways, including steaming, boiling, frying or other methods.

The traditional method for steaming crabs in Maryland is steaming.Crabs can be steamed whole, or the top shell can be removed and the body rinsed prior to steaming. In either case, crabs are usually sprinkled heavily with crab seasoning before steaming. This spicy seasoning flavors the crabs during the steaming process.

Medium sized or large seafood steamers are the easiest option for steaming crabs. When an outdoor burner is available, steaming crabs outside is always a good idea. This keeps strong odors outside and makes cleanup much easier.

Most experts recommend that crabs be steamed for about 30 minutes after a rolling boil is reached. Crabs are better if they are kept above the waterline, rather than being immersed during the steaming process.

After steaming, crabs can be served hot or allowed to cool before enjoying. At family celebrations and other seafood feasts, Maryland crabs are usually served with ice cold beer, melted butter, fresh corn on the cob and crackers.

To aid in picking out crab meat, a small paring knife, wooden mallet and claw-cracker are all useful. In addition, crab pickers will need the table lined with newspapers and lots of paper towels as extracting crab meat from the shell is a messy task.

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