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Maryland Blue Crabs in New England?

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  • Gabe Handel Dec 13, 2000 02:05 PM
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Has anybody ever run across steamed blue crabs in New England (that are worth eating, anyway)? I get these unstoppable cravings for crabs the way they're served in those DEL/MAR/VA crab shacks -- steamed in beer, vinegar, and old bay seasoning. I've satisfied the cravings three ways:

1) crab cakes made at home from decent lump crab meat
2) actually flying to Baltimore to go to Obrycki's crab house (round trip air from Providence or Manchester can be under $100)
3) ordering crabs from Maryland for next-day delivery (my experience with www.crabplace.com was about as good as delivery of this kind of thing can be).

#2 and #3 have yielded the best satisfaction, but they both add between $50 and $100 to the cost of the crabs, which are expensive to begin with.

I know that Skipjacks used to hold a crab celebration, but I haven't seen that in a while.

I've also looked into whether local fish wholesalers can get blues, and they can, given enough notice -- but they won't sell less than a bushel (5-7 dozen), and cooking and consuming that volume becomes a real logistical nightmare. The ideal situation would be a relatively nearby place where I could just sit down at a butcher-papered table, and order up a dozen blues and a pitcher of beer--recognizing, of course, that quality will fall somewhat short of what I get when I actually go to Maryland to satisfy the craving. Any ideas?

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  1. Occasionally Dixie Kitchen on Mass Ave has spicy boiled crabs. I believe they also have a liquor license so that you can approximate the Maryland crabhouse experience.

    If you ever want to split a bushel, please email me. Although I think the crabs in the bushel are kind of small and I've never tried steaming these things myself.

    I also looked for the northernmost Maryland crabhouse. I believe there's a very good one near Aberdeen, about 1.5 hours north of Baltimore.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Leo

      Thanks for the Dixie Kitchen suggestion. I'll check that out when the crabs are in season (need to research the exact time for that, but I think it's spring).

      I'll definitely let you know if I ever go the bushel route next summer. They're not hard to steam... you just have to have a large pot and plenty of Old Bay and beer. The one true difficulty is having to explain over and over to concerned parties that crabs have no screaming facility, but that the awful sound they make as they cook is just steam escaping from the shells.

      1. re: Gabe Handel

        You're both making me homesick! I love steamed crabs, and have never seen them here. Last time I had them was Labor Day weekend at my Dad's (outside of Baltimore). If you find a good source (or do a crabfeast of your own and need hlp eating them), let me know!!

        1. re: Guinevere

          Just got my weekly marketing e-mail from the Crab Place. Though they're out of season, they seem to be pushing the hard shell crabs with a few new promotions. The one that caught my eye was the "no more shipping charges" deal. They've stopped charging for shipping to most of the East coast, which knocks about $40 off the cost. Current pricing looks like about $45/dozen for 6-6.5 inch crabs and $67/doz for 6.5 inch crabs or bigger. I'm awfully tempted to give it a go, even though my instinct on quality says to wait until summer...

          Link: http://www.crabplace.com

          1. re: Guinevere

            I've lived here for 12+ years (originally from Annapolis) and have yet to find a spot for good blue crabs...I haven't even found a good MD-style crab cake! Looking forward to reading the responses.

            1. re: BostonMAC

              The responses might be out of date, considering this is a 10 year old thread.

              1. re: yumyum

                Ha, didn't even notice...just saw it was bumped to the top of the list with Timmy's response and assumed it was current. Thanks for pointing that out!

              2. re: BostonMAC

                Old post, but anyway...Summer Shack Alewife has a weeknight (Wed, I think) with steamed crabs in Old Bay but we haven't made it over there for it. You must call to see what came off the boat. My husband was born in MD so I think we are scared to try and be (inevitably?) disappointed. Crab cakes? Don't even go there? Most recently, he tried one at Russell House Tavern in Harvard Sq. and it was a gluey, deep-fried mess. The best one I think we've had in the area was at Three Cod Pub in Marblehead, though it's been a few years.

                -----
                Russell House Tavern
                14 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

        2. Courthouse Seafood store in East Cambridge carriers Maryland Style live blue crabs in the summertime. They sell any amount you want, I usually stop by and grab a half-dozen for about 8-9 bucks, and I steam them at home with Old Bay, water, and vinegar. They are sooo good, so I might buy a whole bushel next year and have my own "crab-fest" in Cambridge.

          1. I haven't found a place to go and eat great blue crabs, but when they're in season, I buy them at any of the local Chinese markets and just cook 'em up at home. I LOVE blue crabs - one of my favorite foods and nothing beats making up a batch or two for myself at home.

            2 Replies
            1. re: kobuta

              I know this was an old thread, but since others are chiming in I would add my 1 cent. Just a note the crabs found at most asian markets are females, which tend to be smaller than the males and have smaller back fin meat. I usually find early spring and fall are meatier crabs summer they are usually recently sheds and full of water, not an expert also looking for a good crab house around here. I wonder if someone could talk the crawfish place around here to diversify. I also read you can catch them in the bays around the cape.

              1. re: lc02139

                You can catch blue crabs in the freshwater ponds that line the southern coast of Martha's Vineyard. Buckets of them... http://www.mvmagazine.com/article.php...