Summer’s coming to an end folks! (Sorry! I know I know, saying it out loud makes it more real. I can’t believe this summer’s almost over. Seeing signs for ‘Back-to-School’ is nuts!) For those of you who haven’t enjoyed Maryland blue crabs yet this season, there’s no better time than right now to head out and grab a dozen or two. A good friend of ours recently came to visit us from NYC. Her one request – Maryland crabs! This time we went to Cantler’s Riverside Inn in Annapolis, MD. Fantastic crab house for the entire family. It’s right on the water and it has a dock with its own filling station for passing boats. You can even see the crabs being sorted below, it’s a bit (ok, more than a bit) smelly but the kids find it fascinating. We arrived at Cantler’s around 11:30 on a Saturday, and although the place was filling up quickly we managed to get seated outside without a wait. They offer an all-you-can-eat option, but we ordered a dozen large and lots of sides – fries, onion rings, hush puppies, clam strips and sweet local corn – and of course a round of ice cold Natty Bo’s.
We’ve had crabs a few times this summer at Harris Crab House on Kent Island, Hooper’s in Ocean City, MD, my brother’s house with a bushel from Sea King in Ellicott City, MD, and a dozen or two from Sea Hut Inn in Catonsville, MD. But each time, I dived right into the meal and forgot all about my promise to post a ‘how-to’ on opening and eating crabs. So, this post is dedicated to just that – How I open crabs.
Hi crab! I’m going to eat you.
There is a little flap on the underbelly of the crab (This one is a male. Pointy flap, it’s a male. Rounder flap, it’s a female). I don’t really have a preference, but I know some crab lovers do. Some say the female crabs are bigger, meatier and have eggs that people like to eat. At the same time, others will say the male crabs are meatier and easier to pick. Do you prefer males, females, or whatever tastes delicious? 😉
So you pull the flap back and break it off. This will leave a gap between the top shell and the underbelly.
Grab the shell with both hands, thumbs in the gap. Pull shells apart.
Ta Da. All that yellow stuff is the ‘mustard.’ Many people enjoy eating the ‘mustard’ and consider it a delicacy. I love the stuff. Others find the taste a bit too strong for their liking and discard it when they take off the gills or ‘dead man’s fingers.’
I like to grab the crab with two hands again, thumbs along the center of the underbelly and crack the crab in half.
Tear away the ‘dead man’s fingers.’ I’ve taken them off the left side, you can still see them on the right. The crab is now cleaned and ready to eat.
Pull the legs and claws off and break the body into smaller sections/pieces. I love when you pull off a leg and a lump of white meat is attached.
I leave the top shell around because it has a lot of the seasoning on it. So I can dip the white lump crab meat into the drawn butter, vinegar or crab house seasoning. You can always just ask your server for a cup of seasoning or they have a jar on the table for you to enjoy. YUM!
Only a few weeks left until Labor Day! Just saying 😉 Maryland crabs are a must this and every summer. Go out this weekend to Cantler’s and enjoy great seafood, ice cold beer and this gorgeous weather. You’ll be so happy you did!
Where do you like to get crabs? Do you have a certain way you like to eat your crabs? Let me know in the comment section below. Visit me on facebook and twitter and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog. Happy Eating!