So August is upon us, which means it’s about that time to start ordering Blue Crabs from Maryland. Sadly, I have no beach house and being from Texas, don’t have a proper disgust for crabs found not on the coast. Which is how I found Quarterdeck Restaurant on Saturday.
This hole-in-the-wall in in the suburbs behind Rosslyn, which is an odd place to find delicious seafood, but what are you going to do. Stick with ordering crab here (not that the pizza, burger, or nachos?! aren’t delicious, i’m sure) and get over the fact there aren’t any raw oysters or hush puppies—you won’t mind once the blue crabs come anyway.
How I Eat Maryland Crabs
I don’t want to suggest this is the best way, but
1. How many do I order? I was really hungry, and after 4 Medium sized crabs, I could have stopped. Unless you’re a speed eater, 4 per person seems like a good rule of thumb—you can always order shrimp cocktail, onion rings to start, or a HOMEMADE key lime pie for dessert to subsidize the meal.
2. Attack the Claw first. Each crab will have one larger claw than the other. that’s where to start. Pull the claws apart, get some aggression out with a mallet, and start eating. Butter, vinegar, and old Bay are at hand–but the crab meat is really delicious right now–rich and meaty–so those might not be necessary. Also when the crabs first come out, they should be really hot–so these will be easier on your fingers to start with.
3. Remove the top shell. Turn the Crab on its back, pull back its tab that lifts up from the center of its skeleton, and use a knife to dig in and flip off the top. While you have the knife, scrape out the brains, innards, etc. (Anything that isn’t white)
4. Break the body in half. Here’s where you can go one of two ways. If you are determined to get every last ounce of crab, start pulling off the smaller legs and sucking out the meat. There’s not much in there, though, and after my first or second crab I started discarding these completely. They also might be a good place to start if you wanted to collect leftovers for a stock. While it is wasteful, its not where the tastiest meat is, and you can to consider your exhaustion factor when digging through a pile of crabs. At some point you won’t want to shell anymore—and the last crab or two will cry for feeling left out of your stomach. Better to use your time wisely, and stick to where the most meat is….
5. Break into the meat beneath each leg. Here is where the mother lode is. Use a mallet to break open the white backside skeleton, and below each leg is a cavern of white meat. The real question here, though, is do you reserve a bunch of meat to eat at once, or shovel it in your mouth as you go….that question I really can’t answer, so let me know in the comments.
Did this Texas get the process completely wrong? Lemme know below.