I love crabs. Particularly blue crabs. I grew up crabbing in Beaufort, SC on a 900 (!!) foot dock to the intra coastal waterway. We could catch a MESS of crabs and shrimp off that dock. I think that is my where my love for “catching” began.
Fast forward 20 years, and my parents have a (shorter) dock off the coast of Georgia that has become ripe for catching crabs. Last year, we learned we could catch them and I gained a new nickname- The Crab Whisperer.
There is something exhilarating about corralling those feisty little creatures with their quick, sharp claws. They really want a chunk of your finger/hand and you really want them safely in a 5 gallon bucket ASAP. I want share ten easy steps to YUMMY blue crabs.
Step 1- Location
Find a place where crabs live- preferably with a dock. Buy or borrow a crab trap to use.
Step 2- Set the Trap
Fill the bait section of the trap with either fish guts or raw chicken (glamorous, I know). Secure the bait, throw the trap in the water, and tie the rope on to the dock.
Step 3- Check the Trap
In my experience, the most crabs are caught around low tide (less water means the crabs can find the trap easier). Technically you can check the trap every hour or so, but I usually let it go for 3-4 hours. Set it and forget it.
Step 4- Remove the Crabs from Trap
This is by far the hardest part of the crabbing. The trap is cumbersome and you have these aggressive little beasts desperately trying to stay away from you (aka not leaving). The easiest tactic is to grab a helper and dump the crabs out together. This can be dangerous too (I have the bruises on my arm to prove it). You can also use tongs to remove them. This is easiest for a small amount of crabs- but individually battling those little tyrants can also be exhausting.
Step 5- Cook the Crabs
My preferred cooking method is boiling them. I get a GIANT pot of water boiling and when its roaring, I pour the crabs in… careful not to over load the pot. Once the crabs start floating to the top, they are cooked. Pull them out to cool.
Step 6- Clean the Crabs
This is by far the grossest part of prepping crabs. I will keep it simple. You have to pop the top of the crab off and clean out the innards/lungs and wash all the crap off.
Step 7- Sautee the Crabs
This part is signature to my crab cooking. Melt butter in a large skillet, dump in the cleaned crabs, then sprinkle them with Old Bay (my choice in seafood seasoning). Cook on low for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The butter will start to caramelize and be super yummy.
Step 8- Eat the Crabs
Eating crabs can be tricky but with some practice you can become a pro. You need a good crab hammer to bust open the claws. My favorite meat is the “lump” crab meat near the back swimmer of the crab body. You don’t need a crab cracker to get to that meat. As an accoutrement, I recommend pouring the browned butter from the sauté pan into a little ramekin so you can do some crab dippin.