Get Ready for Our Crab Feast with Eating Tips
We are a few days away from our season-opening all-you-can-eat crab feast, and we are really excited for Saturday. So much so that, I wanted to continue my love letter of sorts to the Maryland Blue Crab and share how I break a crab down to get the most out of my crab cracking skills. We are striving to provide the best crab eating experience in the Tyson’s Corner area.
My earliest memories with blue crabs…
I was 9 years old and camping with my family in late June. It wasn’t us buying a big bushel from a seafood market, but us trying to catch crabs. This was my first real experience in catching something and enjoying the fruit of our labors after. I can remember catching a bunch of crabs, and throwing them in a pot of water from the bay (in hindsight, a great saltwater base), mixed with beer added to the mixture to steam the crabs. And yes, of course they were drenched in Old Bay seasoning. And on that night, for as much as I could remember enjoying the crabs, mosquitos were equally enjoying biting us as well. Circle of Life thing I guess.
But With Age The Crab Experience Got Better…
Why you ask? Well, come on, nothing augments the crab eating experience like washing down the Chesapeake’s finest catch with a cold beer. Thinking of that takes me back to the first time I actually ponied up the money for the extra large crabs. You know, not the mediums or the larges, the A1 Jimmys. Now, the mediums or larges make more sense economically, and growing up, that was the only way to throw a feast.
That first bite into an extra large crab, I was blown away at the quality of the meat. I thought because of the size, the meat quality would suffer, but every bits was as sweet and succulent as the smaller crabs I came across. The Maryland Blue Crab definitely bucks the trend of finding an optimal size for quality of meat. Back to that first feast big boy crab feast, the four of us cracked through 2 dozen extra large crabs for over 2 hours washing them down with beer and we were super-human back in our college days. Those memories are the ones that I shared with my children many a time, they know about uncle Dan, semi uncle B, and the whole gang all too well.
How to Break A Blue Crab Down Like a Pro
Uninitiated eaters are often intimidated by the blue crab. Unlike the giant Alaskan king crab, the blue crab is small and delicate, and eating them takes work and patience. The effort required for that bite may seem a bit inefficient, but that’s what makes each bite that rewarding. The process for enjoying this summer staple is easy when you have the right technique. In preparation for our feast, my family and I steamed some crabs and took some pictures to give you an idea. (forgive the pic quality, we were busy cracking through crabs).
Use Napkins, or Gloves. Eating Crabs is Messy Business.
I’m all for getting Old Bay crammed into my fingernails and following me around all day, but as you can see here, when the wife wants to keep that manicure fresh and enjoy crabs, clear gloves are not bad at all. No judgment here.
Start with the Legs.
Use a gentle twisting motion to snap off the legs and the claws. This frees up the body for maximum meat exposure.
Flip the Crab Belly Up.
Once you flip the crab to reveal the apron, the tucked in piece that’s Y-shape or a dome, on males and females, respectively, you can get started. Remove this piece, and there is a convenient pocket for your thumb during the next step. With your thumb in position, open the crab’s body like a book and reveal the innards.
Peel away the inedible organs, the gray bits also known as “old man’s fingers.” You decide what you want to do with the green crab fat. Newbies tend to discard it too, but as a Maryland native I just want to “dunk my face in accordingly.”
Crack It In Half
Pull the crab in half again along its lateral lines to find the gold, succulent crab meat. Most diners recommend picking and eating at the same time to really enjoy the experience.
The piece de resistance is the claw. While most restaurants will provide a mallet to break down the claw, I don’t recommend it. Hammering the claw the wrong way will push shell fragments into the meat, making you have to pick them out. Instead, detach the claw from the joint and insert your fingers or a thin sharp knife underneath the shell. Create a small cut or break in the top of the shell, and then slowly separate it from the meat with a gentle twisting motion.
Rinse and repeat. Oh, and make sure you have plenty of sweet corn and a good starch to round out the meal.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this Saturday, we are having our season-starting crab feast. All-you-can-eat from Noon-3pm. Give us a call to inquire or submit a form through the site, it’s going to be a great time. If you are new to the American Prime family, come see what our culture is about. Good food, great friends, and timeless memories. See you there.
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Joon Yang – Co-Owner of American Prime