I thought I'd start the tales of our adventures with one of my favorite meals. You may recall from my R is for Restaurants that I love Maryland blue crabs. I wrote the beginning of this one evening as we were getting them ready...and am finishing it now.
We're having crabs tonight. Crabs that we caught ourselves. Armed with string, rib bones, bones from our fried chicken lunch, and chicken necks from the bait shop, we managed to pull in over 25 legal little bottom dwellers. I've been crabbing since I was nine, and am pretty good at the gentle yet relentless tugging of the line, crab wiggling and gnawing away, oblivious to the waiting net. My boys have gotten good at it, too. It does take patience, because if you're not sly enough, they will let go and skedaddle away. But hopefully just to next piece of waiting, rotting, greasy treat.
Fixing them is pretty easy. All you need is a big double boiler, water, vinegar, and most importantly, Old Bay seasoning. Put the water and vinegar (about one part vinegar to two parts water) in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle in Old Bay liberally, and bring to a boil. Once it's boiling, dump the unsuspecting suckers into the steamer basket with lid, and wait a half hour. Once they're dead (you'll know when the clawing at the side of the pot stops...) dump more Old Bay directly on them. (Wouldn't want their last minutes on earth to be spent with Old Bay stinging they're eyes...we are humane, after all.)
Eating crab is an acquired skill, best perfected with lots of practice. It's important to have a veteran show you how. My high school best friend's dad taught me well, and If I'd thought to take pictures, I could give you a whole tutorial. But I was too busy picking them to stop, wash my hands, and do that. So here's a rough overview. Get all the meat out. Just kidding! But seriously, it takes patience. The sign of a sloppy picker (Exhibit A: YellowBoy) is being the first done with your crab. I had given him a large one, because they are easier, but I got more meat out of his “finished” crab than out of my medium fellow.
The basic concept is each leg has it's own muscle compartment, and that's the meat you want to eat. If you've done all the other steps right, you should be able to just slide you finger through that channel, poking all the meat out. And cracking the claws is just like eating snow crab, or king crab, only on a smaller scale. But in my opinion, it's not the claw that has the choicest meat, it's the back fin. To get that meat out, I do it a bit differently than on the legs. I remove all the shell, and then with my secret (well not anymore...) twist-n-push-in-twist-n-pull-out move, I can get the whole back fin lump in one try. That morsel is so tasty!
And sitting on the back deck, watching the day turn into evening into night, with this view,
I was savoring every moment. I wish you blue crab in your future.