Shellfish of the Week: Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus)

ImageThe Blue Crab is an icon of the Chesapeake Bay.  It might get you thinking of fingers red with Old Bay seasoning, summer picnic tables covered in newspaper, bowls of melted butter and a good beer.  Well, roll up your sleeves; brush the dust off your claw crackers and meat picks, because blue crab season is right around the corner.  You can feel good about eating blue crab too.  It’s currently not being overfished, and the stock is stable.  This is important, considering it’s one of the most popular shellfish in the mid-atlantic.  The biggest threat to a sustainable blue crab population is nutrient loading in spawning grounds.  There has been an active push to clean up the Chesapeake for many years now, and lots of progress has been made.  Bycatch in the blue crab fishery isn’t much of a concern either, as the way the crabs are caught allows fishermen to be very selective, usually pulling up only blue crab in their traps.


The best way I’ve found to prepare blue crab is to steam them in a broth of Old Bay, beer, salt, and vinegar.  Take a trip to your local seafood market and pick out a good slew of live blues.

Mix a 1/2 cup of Old Bay, 3 dark and flavorful beers, 2 cups distilled vinegar, and a 1/2 cup salt in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Lay a steaming rack over just over the boiling mixture, and layer the crabs until the pot is full.  I like to sprinkle each layer of crabs with a good dose of Old Bay.  Steam for about 25 minutes until the crabs turn bright orange/red.  Prep a table for getting messy by laying down some newspaper and ready a large bowl for shell discards.  I like to mix melted butter, soy sauce and a little lemon in a bowl for dipping.  Crack open a beer and dig in!Image


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