I’M not really sure when was the first time I ate crab. Sure, I think I tasted my stepfather’s all-you-can-eat King Crab at Red Lobster (home of the most disgusting, cream-sauce-filled-commercials EVAH), but real, honest-to-God Chesapeake Bay crab? I think I was in my late 20s. Sure, I grew up in Maryland, but, oh, only about four hours from the bay, in the sticks out west. So, crab is a new thing for me.
A new thing that has become an obsession.
The other day, Philip and I invested about $20 in a new crab pot, a massive wire contraption into which you put gobs of half-spoiled chicken necks and out of which crabs cannot flee. We tied it up to our dock, headed out for an afternoon, and VOILA! – 8 crabs in it when we got back, two of which were actually big enough to steam and eat. A mid-week trip to the boat to check on the crabs yielded two more edibles. I took them home, steamed them up with Old Bay, and made an amazing Maryland crab soup, which got rave reviews from the strangely hungry masses at my summer drinks party. Since then, I’ve had crab with steak while anchored out last weekend, watching fireworks off in the distance and listening to the strains of a Doobie Brothers concert (who knew they still toured??), and last night I casually threw the meat from two crabs in some Trader Joe’s yellow Thai sauce with the frozen Thai shrimp gyoza. Delicious, both.
I could definitely get used to this. FREE crab. Free yummy crab. Makes the work of getting the little buggers out of their shells almost worth it.
Maryland Crab Soup
All measurements are, as usual, entirely approximated. This is best when made with fresh, local veggies.
apple cider vinegar
Old Bay seasoning
Rinse crabs in fresh water. Sprinkle the crabs with loads of Old Bay and steam them above a half-and-half mixture of water and vinegar. Let cool and pick out all the meat. Save all the shells but discard the guts. In about 4 cups of water, cook the shells gently for about 20 minutes to make a broth; strain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer.
Alternately, just buy some crab, about a cup and a half or two cups’ worth, I think.
1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, smooshed and diced
Saute in olive oil over medium heat until onions are clear.
2 carrots, sliced
3 large red potatoes (or lotsa little ones), diced into bite-sized pieces
two big handfuls green beans (or more), snapped into one-inch pieces
half a small head of cabbage, sliced thinly
about a cup of fresh or frozen corn
3-4 fresh tomatoes, diced
crab broth from above
about a quarter cup tomato paste
a good handful of Old Bay, maybe as much as a quarter cup if you like the taste
couple dashes Worchester sauce
enough chicken or veggie broth to cover everything
salt, probably about a tablespoon
Bring to a boil, stir, and lower heat until you have a steady, strong simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes or so, until the potatoes are cooked but still firm.
Stir in the reserved crab and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil again to warm the crab, then serve. Watch guests swoon.