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Cooking crabs at home

August 03, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

For cooking crabs at home, a deep pot is a necessity. A rack inserted in the pot keeps the crabs out of the liquid, said Ernie Schuhly, owner of Chic's Seafood.

First, the crabs.

To prevent the claws from falling off during cooking, chill the live crabs in an ice water bath for about 4 minutes. (Hint: To pick up a live crab without getting nipped, hold it by the backfin.) This also puts the crabs in a dormant state.

Some people drop them in live. To kill them first, turn the crab on its back. Insert an ice pick in the center of the crack at the bottom of the mouth and push the pick down. Do this just before steaming the crabs.

Pour equal parts water and white vinegar in, keeping the liquid under the rack.

Put a layer of crabs in the rack and sprinkle on seasoning such as Old Bay.

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For his large batches, Schuhly uses the following seasoning:

  • 80 pounds pretzel salt

  • 2 1/2 pounds ground celery

  • 2 1/2 pounds dry mustard

  • 1 1/2 pounds cayenne pepper

  • 1 1/2 pounds crushed red pepper

  • 3 1/2 pounds black pepper



Schuhly recommends using 2 pounds of that seasoning for a bushel of crabs.

That comes to:

  • About 1 3/4 pounds pretzel salt

  • Almost an ounce of ground celery

  • Almost an ounce of dry mustard

  • Just more than 1/2 ounce of cayenne pepper

  • Just more than 1/2 ounce of crushed red pepper

  • 1.2 ounces of black pepper


From the time the flame on a gas stove is turned on under the pot, it takes at least 45 minutes to steam the crabs, Schuhly said.

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