Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs

Over the July 4 holiday, my whole family and a few friends had crabs.  (For any messed up people reading this, no – not those kind.)  We had a bushel of Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs, #1 Jimmies, steamed with Old Bay Spice.   Wonderful.

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I ate that sucker!

You Actually Eat Those Things

As my friend from Chicago said:   “What is that thing?  That’s disgusting.  You’re really going to eat that?”  Yes because crabs are not born into the shape of a crab cake or crab salad.

I love the blog Off The Bitten Path and as the author says:  “Just remember, what’s normal for you might be strange to others.”

To me, the sweet claw and body meat of these crustaceans seasoned with the savory Old Bay spice, with a side of Eastern Shore sweet white corn, fresh-picked garden cucumbers, and a whole lot of ice-cold beer is a perfect meal.  And steamed crabs are a social event, we hang for many hours cracking the meat out of the crabs and talking about anything with each other.

We pick our own crabs, but others may prefer crab more as a salad:

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Crab Salad that I ate at Swan Oyster Depot in San Francisco, CA with dungeness crab, lettuce, and Louie dressing – delicious

Going Crabbing When I Was Young

When I was a kid, on some Saturdays we would wake up at the crack of ass in the morning and drive to an estuary of the Chesapeake Bay.  We had some string, old spark plugs for weights, and chicken necks for bait, along with nets, bushel baskets, and gloves. Crabs were abundant then.  It was easy to come back with at least a bushel.

The Collapse and Return of the Chesapeake Bay Crab Stock

For a bunch of reasons including upstream excessive fertilization of farm fields, over-fishing, and climate change breading disease and unhealthy blooms in the shallow water, the crab population started falling precariously in the Chesapeake Bay.  Crabbers went out of business, prices skyrocketed, and all-you-can-eat crab feasts went the way of the all-you-can-eat unicorn feast.

“Over the decade between the mid-1990s to 2004, the population fell from 900 million to around 300 million [blue crabs], and harvest weight fell from 52,000 tons to 28,000 tons.”

Through the efforts of many groups throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the crab populations are rebounding.  The 2017 crab population is estimated at about 455 millions crabs according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Old Bay Seasoning

Like I pointed out in the introduction, we steam our crabs with Old Bay Seasoning.  If you are not familiar with Old Bay Seasoning, it is a spice mix made by McCormick Spices in Baltimore, Maryland.  It contains celery salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, paprika, and a bunch of other spices that McCormick keeps secret.

I love this seasoning – it is an essential ingredient in my kitchen.  Beyond crab, I use it on shrimp, fish, chicken, deviled eggs, cocktail sauce, and more.  You can buy potato chips and popcorn seasoned with Old Bay.  Its a great mix.

Thank you for reading, and if you want more about crabs, check out my review of Blackfish Restaurants 4 Course Crab Tasting Menu.

 

 

 

 

 

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