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Steaming Crabs


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#1 Mackus

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 08:03 AM

Anyone do this themselves?

 

I've recently acquired a 36 quart pot with steamer insert and one of those propane burners to cook with it, and my objective is to steam some crabs later on this summer.

 

Where do you get the live crabs?  How many do you do in a batch?  J.O. or Old Bay or some mixture of either with or without extra salt? 

 

I've googled quite a bit for some guidance on these questions, but would be interested in hearing about how anyone here does it.



#2 JeremyStrain

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 08:14 AM

Anyone do this themselves?
 
I've recently acquired a 36 quart pot with steamer insert and one of those propane burners to cook with it, and my objective is to steam some crabs later on this summer.
 
Where do you get the live crabs?  How many do you do in a batch?  J.O. or Old Bay or some mixture of either with or without extra salt? 
 
I've googled quite a bit for some guidance on these questions, but would be interested in hearing about how anyone here does it.


I've got a couple spot for live ones, you really have to experiment til you find a place that gives a good money/quality balance.

I always pour a beer or two in with the water, and dump a good chunk of JO in there. I like JO better because its a little more coarse. Feels better for crabs. As for how many, I really do it by eye, you don't want them packed to the top, I usually just keep doing smaller batches all day.
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#3 NewMarketSean

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 08:31 AM

J&O for sure. Be liberal with them.

 

Call around for live crab prices...or drive around a main street like route 40 and look for signs.


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#4 DuffMan

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 08:40 AM

Steaming yourself is only way to go.  You can steam as few or as many as you want, provided they fit in your pot.  I use vinegar, water, and half a beer in the pot.  Agree with using JO, go with #2.  There's no right or wrong amount of seasoning to use, but if you go overboard with the seasoning you can lose the taste of the crab and just taste the seasoning.  When adding the liquid to your pot, avoid filling it too close to the top of the steam rack.  This helps prevent the bottom few crabs from getting soggy.   As far as when the crabs are done, just pull out a claw and take a taste test.   


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#5 DuffMan

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 08:42 AM

You can steam em on your stove top/range, but if you have a propane burner than I would recommend steaming them outside.



#6 BSLMikeLowe

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 10:43 AM

Soak them in ice water for a while before steaming. In addition to obviously being easier to put in the pot, they are also less likely to lose their claws during steaming. I add a little rock salt to mine along with the seasoning.


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#7 Mackus

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 10:55 AM

Soak them in ice water for a while before steaming. In addition to obviously being easier to put in the pot, they are also less likely to lose their claws during steaming. I add a little rock salt to mine along with the seasoning.

 

Like submerge them completely?  For how long?



#8 BSLMikeLowe

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 11:08 AM

Like submerge them completely?  For how long?

 

I soak them for about 20 minutes. But lots and lots of ice. Add a bit if you need to during the soak if you're doing it outside on a hot day. As long as a crab was alive when you put it in the icewater, it'll be alive when you take it out. You won't even need tongs to handle them.....although your hand/arm might go numb from pulling them out of the water. And you'll get more in a pot too because they are easier to layer and won't be crawling all over the place.

 

I worked at a crab joint one summer/fall in high school. We went through more ice than a sno-cone truck. One time our ice maker broke down and we had to steam them without a pre-soak. What a nightmare.



#9 Mike in STL

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 09:32 PM

Like submerge them completely?  For how long?

 
I soak them for about 20 minutes. But lots and lots of ice. Add a bit if you need to during the soak if you're doing it outside on a hot day. As long as a crab was alive when you put it in the iceboater, it'll be alive when you take it out. You won't even need tongs to handle them.....although your hand/arm might go numb from pulling them out of the water. And you'll get more in a pot too because they are easier to layer and won't be crawling all over the place.
 
I worked at a crab joint one summer/fall in high school. We went through more ice than a sno-cone truck. One time our ice maker broke down and we had to steam them without a pre-soak. What a nightmare.


This also stuns the crab, and is looked at as the humane way of killing it. Id rather be unconscious if I was about to be steamed to death too.

Crabs also have a defense mechanism that makes them able to self amputate when they sense danger. Like a predator grabs them by the legs, they let it go. If you dont stun the crabs, they sense the danger in the pot and you can end up with a hand full of crabs who left their claws in the bottom of your pot.
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#10 Mike in STL

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 09:48 PM

This maybe sacrilegious to even bring up...and let me preface this by saying that im all about old fashioned steamed crabs, old bay, etc...

But a friend of my dads Introduced us to something neat. Once the crabs are soaked in the ice bath, you can handle them with ease, so you crack the large outer shell off and clean out the guts, lungs, etc... leave the rest of the crab intact. You then put the crabs in your steamer, but steam them in olive oil and copious amounts of fresh herbs and spices. Basil, rosemary, parsley, crushed red pepper. Two or three times through steaming, with the lid on the pot, you shake it up to coat the crabs (which now has the meat more exposed) in the oil and herbs.

Pick and eat as usual. Its not the Baltimore way, but damn if they arent tasty as I dont know what.
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#11 Mackus

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 03:24 PM

Did this for the first time last weekend.  Turned out great.

 

Me and two friends went through a half bushel of larges.  Was $110 for the half bushel (I think we got 40 total) compared to $150 for a half bushel steamed from my favorite nearby carryout place (Gaffney's Backfin).  Got them from MD Crabs Delivered, picked up in White Marsh.  Crabs were good size and meaty.  Followed the advice on here and soaked them in ice water to get them comatose (they had pretty much calmed down in the cooler with some ice on the way back from picking them up, added water and 15 min later they were all motionless).  Steamed the first back for 15 min, second for 17 min.  I think the 17 were slightly better cooked, but there also were a few less in the pot so may be more than just the added time.  Bought $5 worth of seasoning from the place I got crabs which liberally covered both batches with a little bit leftover to use with the picked meat.

 

Was really pleased with the whole experience, will definitely become a major part of my summers from now on.


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#12 SportsGuy

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 03:26 PM

Is this thread about Pedro's date last night?

#13 Cisc-O's

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 03:33 PM

This maybe sacrilegious to even bring up...and let me preface this by saying that im all about old fashioned steamed crabs, old bay, etc...

But a friend of my dads Introduced us to something neat. Once the crabs are soaked in the ice bath, you can handle them with ease, so you crack the large outer shell off and clean out the guts, lungs, etc... leave the rest of the crab intact. You then put the crabs in your steamer, but steam them in olive oil and copious amounts of fresh herbs and spices. Basil, rosemary, parsley, crushed red pepper. Two or three times through steaming, with the lid on the pot, you shake it up to coat the crabs (which now has the meat more exposed) in the oil and herbs.

Pick and eat as usual. Its not the Baltimore way, but damn if they arent tasty as I dont know what.

The guts are the best part!


<p>I am pretty sure Shack is thinking of PBR.

#14 Mike in STL

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 03:35 PM

The guts are the best part!



I beg to differ. Ive never had a crab cake made out of the guts.
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#15 SportsGuy

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 03:36 PM

Did this for the first time last weekend.  Turned out great.
 
Me and two friends went through a half bushel of larges.  Was $110 for the half bushel (I think we got 40 total) compared to $150 for a half bushel steamed from my favorite nearby carryout place (Gaffney's Backfin).  Got them from MD Crabs Delivered, picked up in White Marsh.  Crabs were good size and meaty.  Followed the advice on here and soaked them in ice water to get them comatose (they had pretty much calmed down in the cooler with some ice on the way back from picking them up, added water and 15 min later they were all motionless).  Steamed the first back for 15 min, second for 17 min.  I think the 17 were slightly better cooked, but there also were a few less in the pot so may be more than just the added time.  Bought $5 worth of seasoning from the place I got crabs which liberally covered both batches with a little bit leftover to use with the picked meat.
 
Was really pleased with the whole experience, will definitely become a major part of my summers from now on.


You mean you didn't go out and catch the crabs yourself? Coming from you, it's surprising. Maybe you are getting soft?

#16 Pedro Cerrano

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 03:37 PM

You mean you didn't go out and catch the crabs yourself? Coming from you, it's surprising. Maybe you are getting soft?


He actually used to dig his own private pond and breed the crabs himself and then catch them with homemade tools.

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#17 Mackus

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 04:27 PM

You mean you didn't go out and catch the crabs yourself? Coming from you, it's surprising. Maybe you are getting soft?

 

I need to finish whittling the boat first.


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#18 DJ MC

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 07:50 PM

This maybe sacrilegious to even bring up...and let me preface this by saying that im all about old fashioned steamed crabs, old bay, etc...

But a friend of my dads Introduced us to something neat. Once the crabs are soaked in the ice bath, you can handle them with ease, so you crack the large outer shell off and clean out the guts, lungs, etc... leave the rest of the crab intact. You then put the crabs in your steamer, but steam them in olive oil and copious amounts of fresh herbs and spices. Basil, rosemary, parsley, crushed red pepper. Two or three times through steaming, with the lid on the pot, you shake it up to coat the crabs (which now has the meat more exposed) in the oil and herbs.

Pick and eat as usual. Its not the Baltimore way, but damn if they arent tasty as I dont know what.


Aren't those called deviled crabs, or is that something else entirely?
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#19 McNulty

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 07:56 PM

I know a guy from Jersey who also removes the guts and lungs prior to steaming. I think that says it all.

And Mack, stay off the water.

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#20 Mike in STL

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 08:01 PM

Aren't those called deviled crabs, or is that something else entirely?



Im not really sure what you call it. Maybe?
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