In the summertime here on the Eastern Shore, it’s rare to go a week without enjoying blue crabs in some way, shape, or form. Crab cakes, crab soup, or crab dip are all shining examples. But, nothing beats a good old-fashioned crab feast in my book! A big tray of freshly steamed crabs, some corn-on-the-cob, and plenty of ice cold beer. It’s just not summer without it!
Now, I know that many of you folks don’t have access to live blue crabs. But, many folks who do buy them already steamed and seasoned. And, that’s just no good! You don’t know how long ago they were cooked, and you usually end up paying more money to have them do it for you.
The steaming instructions listed below apply to any amount of live crabs – whether it be 1 dozen, or one bushel. Quantity does not matter. Bear in mind if you are steaming a whole bushel, you’ll need a very large cooking device. We have an old keg that we’ve converted to a steam-pot, and it’s great! I also recommend cooking outside if possible. A turkey frying rig is wonderful for this purpose. A side burner on a grill can usually do the job as well. I find that when I do steam them inside, it creates a funk smell in the house that lingers for a day or so. Kind of like when you fry something!
Line a table with multiple layers of newspaper, and dump the crabs right into the center of the table. Have wooden mallets and picking knives at the ready. We like to serve melted butter, and cider vinegar that’s been seasoned with plenty of Old Bay.
Steamed Blue Crabs
1/2 bushel live blue crabs (4 dozen)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 beer (optional)
8 cups water
1/2 cup Old Bay (seafood seasoning)
1/4 cup kosher salt
Combine the Old Bay and kosher salt. Combine the water, vinegar and beer in the bottom of a large steamer pot .
Using tongs, add the crabs to the pot a few at a time, seasoning with a tablespoon of seasoning here and there as you go. Cover, and place over high heat. Bring to a boil until you see steam escaping from the lid. Reduce heat to medium-high and steam for 30 minutes. Remove lid, and continue to steam for an additional 5 minutes with the lid off before removing.
Serve on layers of newspaper, with vinegar and melted butter for dipping.