Steamed, Sauteed or Soft Shelled, Blue Crabs Make a Regular Appearance on Towson Tables

For foodies, Baltimore County is synonymous with steamed blue crabs. Known in scientific circles as callinectes sapidus, which translates as “beautiful swimmer that is savory,” blue crabs are found in abundance in the waters of Chesapeake Bay.

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On Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 17:27

For foodies, Baltimore County is synonymous with steamed blue crabs. Blue crabs are found in abundance in the waters of Chesapeake Bay, with the commercial crab season running from April through October. Scientists say the brackish – or slightly salty – water of Chesapeake Bay is ideal for the blue crab to thrive.

The blue crab’s scientific name is callinectes sapidus, which translates as “beautiful swimmer that is savory.” And savory they are. Blue crab meat has been compared to the sweetness of lobster meat, and there are more than a dozen restaurants in Baltimore County that specialize in preparing the crustacean.

Soft-shell crabs are considered high-class table fare, but steaming is the traditional Maryland way, although they can also be sautéed or served in soups and dip. Fresh crabs can be purchased at a number of seafood markets around town – one of the many benefits of living near the Bay. Most locals enjoy their crab meat dipped in vinegar or sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning or melted butter. But in Maryland, it's not about how you eat your crabs; it's how many crabs you eat.

Guide to Ordering Crabs

Every crab house determines size a little differently, but here's a general guide:

  • Small – 5 to 5 ½ inches
  • Medium – 5 ½ to 6 inches
  • Large 6 to 6 ½ inches
  • Extra Large or Jumbo – 6 ½ inches or more