How to Steam Crabs

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 75,385
    This video will show how to steam crabs–a critical step when trying to enjoy this delicacy.

    Alexandra VanCleve: Hi, I am Alexandra VanCleve with Capt. Jack's Crab Shack and today we are showing you how to steam crabs. Right now I am going to show you how to cull and cook them.

    First I am going start off with adding the special ingredients to the water. I am going to take off the lid and you want to make sure you use a pot with a basket, so the crabs aren't touching the water. You are going to lift them up about a couple of inches, one to two is fine, you want to add about one third parts water, a beer. Usually it's about almost a beer and then one sip for the chef. Then you want to add about one third part vinegar. It's going to give your crabs a nice good flavor.

    Again with all three of these ingredients, the water, the beer and the vinegar, you don't want the water or the mixture to touch the crab. And of course, you can't forget the Old Bay. I use about two thirds cup, just to season the water, it's okay if it's touching the basket. It's all messy.

    And now we are going to show you how to cull them. For those of you that don't know what culling is, it's separating out the live from the dead crabs. It's important to separate them out because you don't want to cook a dead crab. You will know it sometimes if you ever get a mealy or maybe it doesn't smell very good, that's probably been a dead crab that's being cooked.

    This is a bushel basket and this is the traditional way of culling crabs. You kind of just lead them up here, let them walk out if they want to and again we are using all male crabs. There everyone goes. I am not using gloves, however it is preferable, so if you don't touch them everyday, the mess, to use gloves.

    There goes a dead one. You want to make sure you pull them out. You have got a good eye, you can tell, but if you blow in their face, that's the fastest way to tell whether they are alive or dead. This is about a half bushel sized pot, so you can get probably about three, three and a half dozen in here alive, depending on how lively they are and how big they are.

    The longer they are left out in room temperature, the livelier they will be. Crabs are kept at a cool 56 degrees if you want them to stay alive, they are not ready to mess with them. Putting them in a cooler -- on ice is fine, before you cook them. Now that the crabs are all in the pot, we have already started the water, the mixture is already going, you can see little steam is coming up. From the point of boiling you want to go about 25 to 30 minutes. So we are going to put the lid on and for you at home, you want to steam them for about 25 to 30 minutes. Well we are going to come back in about 15 minutes and show you what they look like when they are not done.

    Now the crabs have been in for about 20 minutes and we are going to go ahead and check and see what they look like. Here is a good one, okay. This crab is red, however he is not fully bright and red. There are a couple of spots where you can see right there and right there, there is a still little bit of discoloration, that means that they are not done yet. You are going to put them back in, close the lid and let them steam for about another ten minutes before we check them again.

    Okay, the crabs have been on for about 30 minutes or so, so we are going to check to see if they are done. They smell delicious. What we are looking for is a bright red color, the same all through out and this one is perfect. Hopefully you can see, get a good angle here, the crab is bright orange, he is fully colored from all the way, from point to point, down here toward his belly, on the underside he is all the same color. He is perfect and ready to be eaten.

    A couple of tips about cooking crabs. You want to make sure that the crabs in the middle of the pot are fully cooked. The ones on the outside are going to cook a little bit faster, so you want to make sure they are good and steamed. Second, you want to make sure that when you pull them out, you use tongs, they can be very hot. So just placing them on a plate is the best way to do it. Now when you have put all the crabs in the plate, you just want one finishing touch and that is the good helping of a lot of crab spice. Just go ahead and load it on, and they are ready to be eaten.

    Next we are going to show you how to eat a crab.

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