Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bidding for Maryland Blue Crabs


I've been dreaming about bidding on fresh blue crabs, getting them steamed to order, and then chowing away like a savage in some wooden shelter by the dock with no seats.

But in order to do something like this, one has to do it right. I did a lot of research before going to the Maine Ave. Fish Market so that I could identify crab genders, life cycles, and meatiness.

First, I had to pick from a number of stands, but after reading every review that I could find on the internet, I decided on Captain White's Seafood City.

See those bushels? They were bringing in bushels of live crabs nonstop, and they were selling fast!! We showed up nice and early so there was no line, but by lunchtime, it turned into a mosh pit. People were mostly buying by the dozen or the bushel.

Male crabs have blue claws, and female crabs have red claws. Male crabs have more meat, but if you want to go egg hunting, get the females.

I also learned from the internets that it was market rate, which at this time of the year should be around $18 per dozen of large females and $22 per dozen of large males, but it was unfortunately Labor Day weekend, and crabs are a part of the tradition. I paid $16 for half a dozen large males and tipped the guy $2 for picking out relatively heavy ones and giving me an extra crab. They were feisty!

BTW heavy means that they're at the end of their molting cycle so that they're full of delicious meat instead of water.

They put the crabs on the steamer, threw on some Old Bay seasoning, and shoved them into these paper bags piping hot 30 minutes later.

Taking apart 7 crabs (they gave me an extra) is no small task, but luckily I had lots of practice.

I got tired from taking apart the claws, so we got a wooden mallet for $1. I was just posing. I hulk smashed the claws (didn't want to take a real picture because of the shrapnel), but NEVER EVER EVER hulk smash the body. You will send little shards through your meat and you'll probably rip your tongue apart and choke to death... or just have to visit the dentist.

Someone got tired of watching and got a pile of onion rings.

Success! So much super fresh crab meat. I left a pile in an empty shell for my giant onion-ring eating seagull.

It took me about 2 hours to get through all 7 crabs. I got rather tired, but it was all worth it. Some of the extra time was just from picking out nice big pieces for the seagull.

I bruised my left ring finger knuckle and cut my right middle finger right below the cuticle, but it was in the name of Victory. Also my shirt smelled like crab for the rest of the day, and I had to air it out for 24 hours. At least I didn't have to throw any clothes out, which I was almost prepared to do!

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