At my last wedding catering gigs I was asked to step out of my comfort zone and do something that I’ve never done before…Maryland Blue Crab. My response was, “You know I was born in Prince Georges County…” I normally stay away from seafood items for big events but I was up for the challenge. I researched what the entire experience should be like since the last Maryland crab boil was at a Filipino party (they add rice). The basics for a Maryland crab boil are Maryland blue crab, old bay seasoning, and vinegar water with a hint of beer.
Now I had to make sure I had the rest of the cooking equipment…I decided to go with tamales/seafood pots mainly because they were cheap and then I used my turkey fryer burner for the heat. The steaming process took a little longer than 30 minutes. It was about 45 minutes per pot.
I’m thankful for companies like The Crab Place who can send you any number of Maryland crab.
Aunt Pam’s Crab Recipe
1 dozen Maryland Blue Crabs, live
½ cup Old Bay seasoning
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon Whole mustard seeds
12 oz. Beer
12 oz. White vinegar
- Place equal parts beer and white vinegar into the bottom of an 18” enamelware steamer pot with built in rack about 2” above the bottom of the pan. For this size steamer and for approximately 3 dozen crabs, use 12 ounces of each. Mixture should not come up to the rack shelf, and no crabs should be in the liquid
- Put the rack into the steamer pot
- In a separate medium sized mixing bowl, mix together ½ cup Old Bay seasoning, ½ teaspoon Kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon who mustard seeds per dozen crabs being steamed
- Layer the live crabs into the pot atop the rack. Sprinkle each layer liberally with the Old Bay mixture. The crabs should be sluggish because of having been on ice, but if they are testy, you can chill them out by throwing Old Bay on them (especially their eyes, apparently). Continue layering crabs and Old Bay mixture until the steamer is full, leaving at least 2” between the top layer of crabs and the lid.
- Cover and steam approximately 30 minutes, or until the crabs turn red. It is helpful to use a clothespin to clip the lid down so that the crabs cannot escape.
*DO NOT under any circumstances put the crabs in water between receiving them and steaming them. Straight from the box into the steamer
*DO NOT steam any dead crabs. Just toss those. They can make you sick. Check to make sure they are alive by pulling a little on their legs. If they are alive they will usually pull back.
*Best to pick up the crabs from behind and with tongs. They can be feisty and have surprisingly long reach
*You can keep the unsteamed but opened crabs in the refrigerator or a cooler in the meantime
*It doesn’t have to be an enamelware 18” pot. Just use whatever you have, as long as the crabs can be elevated above the mixture so they steam and don’t boil