Written by aku on 11 Jul, 2000
Yorkers, despite being landlocked, and not exactly near the Chesapeake Bay indulge in the summer ritual of eating steamed blue crabs quite voraciously. Several little roadside shops come to life exclusively for the summer crab season, and local taverns and seafood stores begin steaming dozens…Read More
Yorkers, despite being landlocked, and not exactly near the Chesapeake Bay indulge in the summer ritual of eating steamed blue crabs quite voraciously. Several little roadside shops come to life exclusively for the summer crab season, and local taverns and seafood stores begin steaming dozens of crabs to order starting around late May through September. The quintessential crab seasoning ingredient is Old Bay -- a piquant mixture of celery salt, cayenne, cloves, ginger, bay leaves, and paprika plus a few other random others. In addition, taverns usually add their own special ingredients, often generous additions of rock salt which add to the overall pucker to the seasoning.
This summer, Kelly's Inn located on Sherman Street hill, whose clientele largely appears to be those on shift breaks from the nearby Harley-Davidson factory, has become my personal favorite for best crab eating locale, based on strange ambience (i.e., quasi-biker bar) and best crab seasoning (plenty of rock salt!).
Prices this season are somewhat high, due to crab shortages in NC and MD, but most places offer some variety of sizes, such as 24s - 30s - 45s. In crab pricing lingo, this means a dozen for $24 will be comprised of relatively meager crabs, while a dozen for $45 will likely be monstrous in size and keep you busy for quite some time.
Eating hardshells is nothing like eating those one-shot deal stone crabs or jonah crabs in New England. Hardshells are meant to be eaten by the dozen, with lots of beer, as a communal event. Cultivating your own personal crab eating technique is also part of the ritual. For tools, generally a wooden mallet and dull knife will suffice, though creative use of your two front teeth is also recommended. In larger crabs there is plenty of room to discover delectable morsels in the legs, and most people are patient enough to spend time working on them (often teeth come in handy in this part). The general consensus is that the back fin is the best part, although lately I’ve heard arguments for the mustard colored goop instead… TO BE CONTINUED