OF YOUR LIFE
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To Catch a Crab
It took hours to procure our dinner—and
years to fully appreciate it BY MARGARE T GUROFF
Our annual family crab feast
was a daylong operation. It
began with a three-hour drive
to the Chesapeake Bay, where,
at water’s edge, we’d hunt. My
two older brothers and I would
each tie a chunk of raw chicken
onto twine. Then we’d toss
the meat into the shallow bay
and tug it back toward us, our
father hovering with a net to
scoop up the crabs we lured in.
When we’d caught a cooler’s
worth, we’d drive home, where
my mother would cook our
catch and lay it, caked with Old
Bay seasoning, on newspapers
spread on the picnic table.
Unless you’re a pro, picking a
hard-shell crab takes forever
and consumes almost as many
calories as the crab’s meat
contains. But we five amateurs
would work late into the
cicada-filled evening, prying
off the creatures’ backs and
cracking their claws to extract
flesh that mingled delectably
with the spices on our fingers.
I don’t know that I’ve ever
been hungrier during a meal,
or more satisfied by one.
MARYLAND BLUE CRABS
Steaming is the proper way to cook Chesapeake Bay
blue crabs, says the host of public television’s Coastal
Cooking With John Shields. Here is Shields’s method.
Pour equal parts flat beer and white vinegar in a big pot
with a steaming rack, then put live—always live—crabs
layered with Old Bay above the rack. Top with a tight-fitting lid. Heat to steam. Cooking two dozen crabs this
way takes about 25 minutes, Shields says. As a dipping
sauce, try apple-cider vinegar or melted butter.
Find John Shields´s recipes for his granny´s crabcakes
and a zingy crab dip at aarp.org/catchacrab.