Nothing to be Crabby About

One thing about culinary school – you forget the beauty of simplicity. Not that you never learn about simple dishes, like how to properly prepare a hard boiled egg or make fresh whipped cream. But a lot of emphasis is on the more complicated meals. Why go to culinary school if you were taught to make PB&J sandwiches instead of roasted venison with huckleberry jus?

I had a wonderfully simple meal this weekend, and. My family has always had a boat on the Chesapeake Bay, and I ventured out with my parents for "a day on the bay" and a meal at Mike's Crab House, a restaurant located in Riva, Maryland, just outside Annapolis.

We docked the boat at the end of Mike's long pier, and headed into the restaurant. It was a spectacular Fall day, so we decided to sit at one of the wooden tables outside. I was intent on ordering crab cakes (Mike's meaty crab cakes are perfectly spiced with Old Bay seasoning and are absolutely wonderful). Still, my father was able to sway the family in the direction of steamed crabs, because the crab season was ending.

I was hesitant. I hadn't eaten steamed crabs in awhile, and remembered that picking the meat from the hardy shell was a laborious process. The long swath of dark brown paper that the waiter unfurled on the table gave warning of the messy task to come. Yet when I cracked into the first Old Bay-caked claw and extracted the sweet crab meat, all doubts disappeared. It was simply wonderful in a way that crab cakes, as good as they are at Mike's, can never be. The vinegar and extra Old Bay seasoning that are served on the side for dipping creates a clean but complex flavor combination – the sweetness of crab meat, bite of Old Bay and tang of vinegar. The steamers were divine, eaten with the accompaniments of simply on their own.

Luckily, a crab feast is something that is easy to prepare at home if you're not Maryland-bound anytime soon. Here in New York, an excellent place to start is Sea Breeze Fish Market (9th Ave & 40th St, 212.563.7537). It’s not for prissy shoppers – the floors are slick, many of the fish are whole and you may emerge smelling of the ocean – but it has a superior variety of items at affordable prices. Two big buckets of live crabs greet you when you walk in the door, ready to be doused in seasoning and steamed (call for market prices). Make sure the crabs you select are living – like clams and mussels, crabs should never be dead prior to cooking. Sea Breeze also sells the Old Bay spice necessary for seasoning.

After you've brought home the crustaceans, keep them alive! Store the crabs in a cool, moist area, like the bottom of a cooler lined with ice and covered with wet paper towels. The ideal temperature for storing crabs is 50 F, and the average 36 F temperature of a fridge will ultimately kill them. It's an okay environment for awhile, but plan on cooking the creatures on the day of purchase.

I could detail a recipe myself, but I would like to defer to David Rosengarten's crab feast article on msnbc.com. The "Baltimore Spice" blend that he recommends is terrific, as is the extensive information on how to prepare and serve crabs.

Enjoy!

Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
            • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
            • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
            Show more [+]
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Instructors are typically real-world professionals with many years of experience in their career fields.
            • Ranked #3 in Best for Vets: Career & Technical Colleges 2014 by Military Times.
            • Presents the full tuition cost up front. In most cases, even textbooks are included in the total price.
            • Provides career services associates to help students review their resume, provide career counseling, help with job searches, and more.
            • Has 27 campus locations across the southern United States, plus offers online degree programs.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            3 Program(s) Found
            • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
            • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
            • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
            • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto, and Redding in California, and Salem, Oregon.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found

            Lackawanna College is the premier, private, accredited two-year college serving the people of northeastern Pennsylvania. With a focus on keeping higher education affordable and accessible to our immediate community, Lackawanna draws 80 percent of its student population right from our own region.

            With a main campus situated in downtown Scranton, Lackawanna’s expanding footprint also includes satellite centers in Hawley, Hazleton, New Milford, and Towanda.