Mammaw’s Steamed Crabs

Serves: 5


1 (12-ounce) can beer
2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
6 ounces vinegar
a bushel of fresh crabs
Old Bay Seasoning for additional seasoning
butter, melted


Get a big pot with a tray inside the bottom to keep crabs out of the fluids. Remember you’re steaming them, not boiling them. Into the pot, pour a can of beer, 2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning, and vinegar, and fill to the bottom of the raised tray with water. (Somehow my grandmother always had a can of beer around, although I never saw her drink one.)

Fill the pot to the top with crabs; be careful, they’ll cut your fingers with their sharp claws. Maybe use some tongs or heavy gloves. Pour some more Old Bay on top of crabs (but don’t let them jump out of the pot). Turn on the heat and steam ‘em up. Stay close by because when it starts getting hot in the pot, the crabs may try to push the top off and jump out. When they’ve just turned red, they’re done.

Spread out some newspapers on the table and pour crabs (not the sauce) out. Have some large-handled butter knives or small wooden mallets to help (with breaking the shells). Maybe some melted butter in bowls and a few piles of Old Bay Seasoning out on the table. Some people like crackers to go with their Coca-Colas or beer. Now, picking and eating them crabs is another story, too....

Fun Fact: The olive-green and white “blue crab”—named for its vivid blue claws—is abundant in estuaries and coastal habitats of the Western Atlantic. The blue crab is a crustacean, like its cousins, the shrimp and the crayfish, and has ten legs. It walks sideways using the three middle pairs, uses its front pincer claws for defending itself and securing food, but earns its scientific name from the remaining pair. Callinectes, in Greek, means “beautiful swimmer,” and its hind legs, shaped like paddles, make the crab a remarkable swimmer.

Nutritional Facts:

Serves: 5
Calories from Fat: 0

This Mammaw’s Steamed Crabs recipe is from the Best of the Best from the East Coast Cookbook Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

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