Welcome to Crab Week
Crab Week, the week we've all been waiting for with crab mallet in hand, has arrived. I hope you're as thrilled as I am. I also hope you'll put that crab mallet down. People who know better will think you're an amateur.
When my in-laws retired, they moved to Oxford, Md., on the Eastern Shore and we visited them most summer weekends. Occasionally their watermen neighbors invited us to a crab feast. The two things I learned early on about eating steamed crabs with Eastern Shore folks at home are...
...they don't use a lot of spices to steam their crabs, and they don't use crab mallets. Their theory was that restaurants steam their crabs with a highly spiced mix (which I admit I like) because it makes the customers thirstier and they sell more beer that way. One thing is for sure, if you don't use Old Bay or something similar, you can taste the sweet meat of the crab better.
I was particularly impressed by the fact that the only tools on the table were knives. They used their hands to crack the claws, no mallets needed. Of course, they knew just the right place so the claws would break easily, and I don't. So I just bang away. But I'd like to be able to do it the way the experts do. On the other hand, you're going to have fun no matter how you pick your crabs.
Here's some advice if you're a newbie:
(Photo of crab/special to the Baltimore Sun/Roxanne Earley)