Now that my parents are here in Houston, we can have crab feasts whenever we like. The day after the july 4th holiday, Miss F and I headed down to Clear Lake to enjoy some crabs. We had a call in to our favorite seafood market and knew the boat would be arriving around 11 am. We showed up at 11:15 am, just as they were dumping the crabs into the big storage vats. The crabs were massive. And fiesty. Unlike in Maryland, where they get the crabs for you, Texas is self serve. You get a pair of tongs and a paper bag. We collected about four dozen of the largest crabs in the bin and headed home. After making crabs for years in Maryland, I first had crabs steamed in Texas by my father-in-law. There are two things we learned from Texan crab steamers. First, they cook the crabs outdoors here, in a big crawfish/turkey fryer. We had to fashion a steamer out of a steamer basket, screws and nuts since it doesn't come with a steamer. The second thing we learned from Texans was, once the crabs were steamed, to store them in big coolers to keep them piping hot. Add this information to our already vast Maryland crab steaming skills and you have the recipe for a perfect crab feast. A couple weeks later we headed to Maryland for my cousins wedding and went to Harris Crab House for crabs. The verdict was we couldn't tell the difference between the crabs from Galveston Bay and the crabs from the Cheasapeake Bay. A little Old Bay, vinegar and a mallet...you have the makings for a perfect afternoon.
Texas (Maryland) Blue Crabs
3 to 4 dozen live blue crabs
2 cups apple cider vinegar, plus more for dipping
3 cups water
1/2 cup Old Bay Seasoning, plus more for dipping
Sort through the crabs, discarding any that are no longer living. Pour the vinegar and water into the lower part of the steamer pot or turkey fryer outfitted with a steamer basket. You may need more or less water and vinegar depending on the size of your pot. Make sure you have a good 3 to 4 inches of liquid. If working with a steamer pot, place the top part on the lower base. Add a few crabs and shake Old Bay over top of the crabs, this will make them angry. Pile on more crabs, then more Old Bay. Keep layering and cover the pot. Place the pot over high heat or the gas flame (if using a turkey fryer) and bring the liquid to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-high and steam the crabs for 20 minutes...or as I like to say "until the clicking stops." Remove the crabs from the pot and place in a large cooler to keep warm. Serve with dishes of apple cider vinegar mixed with Old Bay. Butter is for wimps. Enjoy!
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