By Eatocracy Editors - Need to snap out of the end-of-summer blues? Joshua Morgan suggests the Marylander way, with a blue crab feast.
Morgan, a Maryland native, is the founder of Hammer & Claws, a three-day, all-you-can-eat crab festival that involves approximately 40,000 Maryland blue crabs and 1,750 pounds of Old Bay seasoning.
Blue Crab 101: Joshua Morgan
1. A traditional crab feast starts with picking the best and biggest crabs from the Chesapeake Bay.
Try to find a reputable vendor who can provide quality Maryland crabs. Male crabs are ideal for crab feasts. They are also called Jimmies. You're looking for "Number One Jimmies" - "Number One" means the biggest of the catch.
2. Crabs are most popular during the middle of the summer - June/July - but that's also when crabs are most expensive.
If you have the patience, wait until the end of summer, when demand for crabs falls. Not only do the prices drop, but the crabs are much bigger and heavier. Eating crabs at the end of the season means they have molted multiple times and are nice and fat.
3. Making crabs is much easier than you think...
...As long as you follows some simple, but essential instructions. When you bring your live crabs home, make sure to keep your crabs alive (the ideal temperature for crabs is 50 degrees Fahrenheit). They must be alive when you cook them, so be sure to discard all dead crabs.
4. Crabs should always be steamed, never boiled.
And as I said earlier, it's a super simple process. First, get a large pot and fill it with water. You can add a little malt vinegar and beer for some additional flavor. Add a steam rack so the crabs do not touch the water. Place the live crabs in the pot, and coat them with a considerable amount of Old Bay spice. Layer them on top of each other, making sure that all crabs are covered in Old Bay.
Steam the crabs for approximately 20 minutes or until the blue crabs are bright red. The crabs have a pigment in their shells that turn bright red when cooked. Be sure to check the joints of the legs and claws to make sure there is no blue left.
5. To eat your steamed crabs, you will need the following:
A table covered in newspaper, crab mallets, a sharp knife (only for the experts who want to get all the meat possible) and plenty of Old Bay. Some people like to dip crab meat in butter while others like malt vinegar. And of course you need lots of beer.
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