Picking crabs outside with friends is a long standing Chesapeake Bay tradition. Callinectes sapidus – Chesapeake Blue Crabs are abundant here on the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula. Their delicate white back fin meat is delicious and that’s why you will find us steaming up bushels of crabs layered in our favorite crab seasoning all summer long. While Old Bay and J.O. have reigned as the most popular seasonings for over 75 years, many locals make their own secret special blends. Her’s a hint. Start with paprika. If you’re new to the idea of steaming crabs, don’t worry. It’s not that complicated. You can catch your own if you have access to the water. We throw crab pots off the dock baited with menhaden or chicken necks. We throw back the sooks (females) and only keep the big boys – the #1 Jimmys. Layer them in a colander inside a pot while liberally applying your favorite seasoning. Now we have to tell you. The little kids love this part. They get to use a set of tongs to pick the live crabs out of the bushel basket and drop them into the pot. Cook them on high until you see steam pouring from the lid and then turn off the gas. Wait 20 minutes and open the lid. There you will find some beautiful steamed crabs turned a deep dark orange.
And that smell! It’s time to dump them out on a picnic tabled lined with news paper, roll up your sleeves and grab your favorite cold beverage. This Chesapeake Bay pastime just can’t be beat. Imagine sitting around the table on the waterfront surrounded by friends and family. Music in the back ground. Catching up through conversation. Children splashing around at the water’s edge. And the best part – enjoying one of nature’s delicacies.
Now if catching your own crabs is just too much work, rest easy. There are tons of local water men and seafood outfits who will gladly sell you live crabs or steamed crabs. Crabbing is livelihood for hundreds of local residents. Give us a call and we will gladly provide you some phone numbers. Driving down a gravel road to a waterfront seafood house to pick up a bushel of crabs from a local water man is a pretty cool experience in and of itself. Many of them will take you out on the boat to experience commercial crabbing first hand but that’s for another blog. We are thinking Get Rural! Get Crabbing! – EcoTourism.