Maryland Is For Crabs

A visit to Baltimore is a visit to the home of the blue crab and to those who consider it a delicacy. It’s nearly impossible, in fact, to avoid running into a crab house in Baltimore, There’s one in every neighborhood,  each proclaiming itself to be the maker of the best crab cakes in Maryland.

Situated as it is on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay and alongside the Atlantic Ocean, Maryland is very much a seafood state. In addition to steamed crabs, softshell crabs, crab cakes, crab fluffs, fried hard crabs and crab soup, you’ll find restaurants offering everything from steamed shrimp to mussels to oysters to fish.

Don’t be afraid to try it. Sure, crab LOOKS like a giant spider  (and, in fact, crabs are related to their spidery cousins). But it’s actually quite a treat - the kind of food that encourages messy social gatherings with plenty of chit-chat.

Some Maryland crab treats to try:

  • Steamed Crabs - A Maryland seafood staple, steamed crabs are blue crabs steamed in their shells with Old Bay seasoning or a similar seasoning.  To eat, you have to remove the hard shell, clean the crab out, and pull out the tasty white meat.  It’s messy, but fun. Best to do with a large table, plenty of newspaper to protect the tabletop, and lots of friends.
  • Softshell Crabs - This one is not for the squeamish. Softshell crabs are crabs in their molting stage, when their shells are soft instead of hard. Marylanders love to fry them up still in the shell and eat between bread for a nice softshell crab sandwich.
  • Jumbo Lump Crab Cake - Nearly every Maryland seafood restaurant offers its own version of the crab cake and every one of them thinks its version is best. Those made with jumbo lump meat (the most expensive and tastiest Maryland crab meat) are the winners. Look for crab cakes that break apart when your fork touches them: the less breading to hold the crab cake together, the more meat and the more delicious the meal.
  • Crab Fluff - The Maryland crab fluff is close cousin to the crab cake, but with a light, fluffy stuffing that is battered and deep-fried to a golden-brown.
  • Fried Hard Crab - Basically a steamed crab that is still in its shell, fried and deep-battered. You have to eat the crisp stuffing and shell first, then break apart and clean and eat the crab just like you do with steamed crabs. Bring your crab hammer!
  • Crab Imperial - A dish of jumbo lump crabmeat combined with mayonnaise or a sherried white sauce, Crab Imperial is rich-tasting and unforgettable.
  • Crab Soup - There are two versions. Maryland Crab Soup is the spicy kind, made with the same Old Bay seasoning used for steamed crabs, as well as plenty of crabmeat and vegetables. Cream of Crab soup is a white, creamy soup made with plenty of cream and plenty of crabmeat.
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