Down the Shore

August 3, 2008

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I am still savoring our week-long vacation at the beach, which sadly ended yesterday.  The cool ocean breeze, the warm sand between your toes, the sound of crashing waves and crying sea gulls, the jangling bells of the ice cream truck are all hallmarks of our annual trip to the Jersey shore.  A house by the beach also means a constant flow of friends and family, and we are always delighted to play host.  While eating out is one of the expected benefits of a vacation, cooking and eating locally caught crabs on the patio is one family tradition we look forward to every summer.

Atlantic Blue crab is a deliciously frustrating type of food since such a small percentage if its weight is meat.  The large amount of work to amass the smallest amount of succulent crab meat is enough to give anyone pause.  Add the drippy mess of shells, cartilage, and crab juice and you have pretty much assured that the vast majority of the population sadly will never try eating whole crabs. 

Blue crabs is something I only eat in the privacy of my own home with family, outdoors with a big table covered in newspaper, wearing old clothes with my rings and watch safely tucked away in my jewelry box (trust me, you don’t want your watch smelling like crabs).  Loosen your pants and turn on the patio light – you’re going to be still digging for crab meat well after the sun sets.  Add some cole slaw, corn, potatoes, cold beer and large box of wet wipes and you’ve got the makings for a great crab night.

There are two ways to cook crabs, boiling or steaming.  I like to steam – I think it keeps the meat more tender and delicate than boiling.  Some refrigerate the crabs before cooking to sedate them.  I never do since I want to see lively crabs (to ensure they are still alive) before they go into the pot.

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How to Cook Blue Crabs:

Live blue crabs (4-6 crabs/person)
vinegar
water
Old Bay Seasoning

Fill a very large steamer pot with 2 inches of water.  Add about 1/2 – 1 C. vinegar to the water.  Place live crabs on top of the steamer insert, sprinkling each layer with Old Bay seasoning.  Cover, bring to a boil and cook until the shell is bright red (about 10 minutes). 

To eat:  Take off the large outer shell by pulling the arrow-shaped “pulltab” on the belly and removing the top shell.  Tear off the fern-like gills and crack the inner body in half.  The sweetest meat is in the body – some eat the cartilage, I do not.  Use a nut-cracker or crab hammer to open the claws – chopsticks are very handy for getting the meat out.

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10 Responses to “Down the Shore”

  1. bunny Says:

    welcome back! the crabs look wonderful!

  2. Mrs Ergül Says:

    I can tell you have enjoyed! Who wouldn’t?! I love crabs but I doubt I have tried the Atlantic blue crabs you showed here!


  3. I went crabbing back in March. Here in New Orleans we boil them with a mix of cayenne pepper, thyme, and other spices. We throw them in a pot with potatoes, onions, garlic, and corn. So good! I wish it were still crab season down here. Thanks for the post!

  4. Madeline Says:

    I’m so jealous! And those are beautiful photos.

  5. RecipeGirl Says:

    Looks like you had a terrific vacation on the Shore. I’m in the middle of blogging about our trip near Cape Cod.

    Beautiful pictures… love fresh crab (we did the same with local lobstah).

  6. Manisha Says:

    The blue crabs turn red after you steam them? They are so beautiful blue!

  7. marplet Says:

    What nice pictures. And I love the way you described the crabs… makes me want to sit down at the table with you! Got any extra?? :-)


  8. [...] the shore, steamed crabs, summer time and the living is easy Seriously, does it get any better? A Beautiful Mosaic makes us jealous with her vacation reports. No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for [...]

  9. LINZIE Says:

    I wish I can taste that crab right now. LOL

  10. hj Says:

    ALWAYS USE FRESH SALT WATER (good tip to take a bucket with lid to collect water before leaving the ramp)

    make sure the crabs are dead. other wise they will drop there claws when being cooked
    bring the water to the boil
    place all crabs in upside down (claws close to body) into water so fully submerged (upside down so they dont cook the guts into the meat)
    once the water is brought back to the boil, cook for a further 4mins
    take the crabs out and then immediately cool off with fresh salt water, pack crushed ice if desired.

    back and clean in fresh salt water.


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