April 16, 2010

Boiling Live Blue Crabs

Southern Kitchen Classics: Crab and Shrimp Boils

Get out of the way...

It's time for a crab boil folks. Ever since I posted the Bay Seasoning Blend last Wednesday, I knew what I had to do. Boiling live crabs is something I grew up doing as my family spent many summers at the beach catching blue crabs during the early mornings or late afternoons and in no time flat, had us a fine mess of good eating.

If you are lucky to catch your own, you want to keep them on ice. This will keep them from being so active and of course, fresher. By putting them on ice, it sort of puts them to sleep and if you have ever dropped a fully 'live' crab into boiling water, it's not a pleasant sight, at least not to me anymore. This way is a little more humane.

A large outdoor steamer pot is what you need, like a shrimp boiling pot shown above with a heavy lid.

Fill the pot with about a quart of water
4 lemons cut in half
about 4 cans of beer (what ever you drink)
1/4 cup of red pepper flakes
and about a cup of the Bay Seasoning Blend or use the The Seafood Boil Bag recipe (see below).
The Boil Bag is different, choose which ever one you might prefer, I like them both ... equally.

I also like to do something my nephew shared with me, something from my brother's way of cooking, and that is to throw into the basket a grapefruit, couple of oranges, all quartered and maybe a lime or two. Bring this to a rolling boil. Let it boil with the spice for 10 or so minutes. You will also need to add some salt since the mix does not have it in it... not too much, little more than a half of cup should be fine for the above recipe.  Some folks like to steam the crabs without submerging in water, if so, do not add nearly as much salt.

Lift up the basket, place about a dozen crabs in the basket and lower it into the boiling water. Place the lid on wait until it starts to boil again. Cook 10 to 15 minutes. The crabs should be a fiery red. Now if you want to place in some vegetables, now is the time. Corn on the cob, new potatoes, snap beans, mushrooms - whatever you like. Cook another 8 to 10 minutes or until done. If not adding vegetables, cook crabs another 5 or 10 minutes. Carefully remove strainer, drain and get to picking and eating.

Seafood Boil Bag
For every 5 pounds of shrimp or crab.
2 tablespoons whole cloves
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes or to taste
2 tablespoons paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons whole allspice
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon dill seeds
1 tablespoon crushed oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
6 medium bay leaves
    Tie everything in a muslin cloth or spice bag. Add to boiling water and boil 15 minutes before adding seafood. Add salt to the water according to taste.

    Note: You do not have to use this in a bag, some folks just prefer spices in a bag.


    1. As usual informative and oh so good love the crab!

    2. What an interesting way to kill the crab! My parents always use a chop stick to push into its 'heart'. It dies almost instantly.

    3. The crab boil sounds so good! I am also getting pretty weird about killing lobsters and crabs at home. Maybe I should order them out, but I am sure this is so much better!

    4. I think I like the chopstick in the heart method ... though I am glad that you have discovered the putting them on ice trick! I wish crabs weren't so tasty. : (

    5. Boiling live blue crabs, live crawfish, or shrimp are one of life's pleasures that should not be missed. Thanks for the "crab boil" recipe, I may never have to buy Zat's "Crab Boil" ever again.

      Bon appetite!

    6. This is new to me. Have to try it one day.

    7. This brings back a lot of Maryland memories for me, Drick. I can almost smell the Chesapeake hardshells my Dad and I used to devour!

    8. Love crab but tossing them in water would creep me out! I'll leave that to Doug to do and enjoy the results.

    9. The scraping on the pot lid is part of the experience. Supposed to be a great year for crabs here this year, and I can't wait for those lazy summer days with a string, chicken necks and a net- there is nothing like it!