Episode Guide: Crabs in Maryland Img

The seafood Maryland is most famous for: crabs! Blue crabs are cemented in the culture and lifestyle of Marylanders, and they’re the most prized bounty of the Chesapeake Bay. The state has over 3,000 miles of shoreline.  

The waterwomen of the Chesapeake Bay are guiding the way forward and keeping blue crab on the menu, throughout Maryland and beyond. 

Cooking with Crab

LaShone and RaeShawn Middleton, graduates of Johnson & Wales University with degrees in culinary business management, launched R&L Crab Co after losing their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Recognizing the lack of crab delivery services in their town, they began their business from their mother’s house and launched a successful brick-and-mortar store in Columbia, Md.

Their culinary journey started as teenagers perfecting crab dip, which became a staple in their menu, including on their famous crab pizza. Their Baltimore-style crab cakes, featuring jumbo crab meat with minimal filler, have earned them a loyal following.

The twins' secret to their steamed crabs lies in a perfected recipe that includes a mystery beer for enhanced flavor. Over three years, they forged strong relationships with local crab wholesalers and watermen, ensuring fresh deliveries straight to their restaurant.

Learn more about their inspiring journey and delectable offerings at R&L Crab Co and in this video. Discover the rich history of Baltimore crab cakes here.

For further reading, check out this article on the impact of COVID-19 on the food industry.

Crab Cake Imperial 

  •  1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Cholula hot sauce
  • 1 tsp Sriracha
  • 1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp coarse grain mustard
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 lb lump crab meat
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Mix mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauces, Old Bay, salt, mustard powder, lemon juice, lime juice, coarse grain mustard, egg yolks, and parsley in a bowl.
  3. Pour the sauce over the crab meat gradually, don’t saturate.
  4. Add bread crumbs on top.
  5. Gently fold the mixture by hand to keep crab lumps intact.
  6. Scoop onto a cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Crab Dip Pizza

  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tsp JO seasoning
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 lb claw crab meat
  • 1 precooked pizza dough
  • 1 large tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Melt cream cheese in a saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Mix in heavy cream, onion, JO seasoning, Old Bay seasoning, and crab meat.
  4. Spread the crab dip mixture onto the precooked pizza dough as sauce.
  5. Top with sliced tomato and shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Going Crabbing, Maryland-style

Crystal Jordan is the captain of an all-female crabbing crew. She’s a trailblazer in the traditionally male-dominated world of Chesapeake Bay watermen. At 30, she’s among the few women who’ve taken up this demanding profession. Crystal’s journey started early, eagerly joining her father on crabbing trips, determined to prove she could handle the water just like he did.

Crystal’s story is one of resilience and dedication, honoring her father’s legacy while carving out her own path on the bay. She embodies the true spirit of a waterwoman, balancing tradition and modernity, all while bringing in the day’s catch and chasing those breathtaking sunrises, six days a week. 

We learn about how these ladies and other crabbers of the Chesapeake harvest crabs in cages called pots, connected by rope and marked by buoys. Crabbing season in Maryland is roughly April through September, depending on the weather. Crystal shows us how she throws the pregnant female crabs (referred to as “sponge crabs” due to the appearance of the egg sac) back into the bay, where each crab may spawn between 750,000 and 8 million baby crabs.

Crystal, her family, and her crew are carrying on a family tradition, with passion and dedication for their livelihood on the water. For more about the history of watermen and women on the Chesapeake Bay, check out this article and learn how the industry has evolved over the years.

A Taste of Crab Culinary History

At Buddy’s Crabs & Ribs in Annapolis, we meet with Joyce White, one of the foremost food historians in Maryland. She has a passion for America’s culinary past, especially Maryland’s famous crabs. With a B.A. from William Smith College, an M.A. in American Studies from Penn State, and advanced studies in food history, Joyce brings rich knowledge and enthusiasm to every culinary adventure.

Joyce shows us how to pick Maryland crabs, and we talk about the history of Old Bay Seasoning, which uses a combination of sweet and savory spices and, as Marylanders can attest, is excellent on all kinds of dishes. What’s the best part of the crab? Jumbo lump

Picking steamed crabs is a messy, slow, culinary experience, so it’s excellent for bringing people together, sharing stories, and investing time and effort into both your loved ones and the excellent crab bounty native to the Maryland shore. 

Another such historical tradition bringing families around the table is shared with us by Crystal Jordan’s mother, Lee. Crystal has been enjoying this dish at family gatherings since she was a toddler. 

Crab Soup

  • 3 cups beef or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1 cup carrots (sliced)
  • 1 cup potato (cut into small cubes)
  • 1 cup yellow sweet corn 
  • 1 cup lima beans 
  • 1 cup peas 
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 15 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 half medium onion (diced)
  • ½ 6 oz can tomato paste
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 lbs crab meat (cooked)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot, except the crab meat, and cook until vegetables are tender. Add the crabmeat, replace the lid and simmer for 30 minutes until all flavors are absorbed. Enjoy!

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