**A special thank you to my step mom for sharing this recipe and for making this dip for me over the years**
If the sight of picnic tables covered in newspaper, topped with wooden mallets, melted butter and Old Bay seasoning makes you giddy, then you might be a Marylander. While I no longer live in Maryland, I was born and raised there, and catching, picking and enjoying crabs together with friends and family is a favorite summer pastime.
If you’ve stumbled upon this recipe, I’m guessing that you’re either a Marylander yourself, or you’ve been to a restaurant in the Maryland area and had this tasty appetizer and you’re looking for a way to make it yourself. Well, know what? It’s super easy to make at home! First you need to know a little about Maryland blue crabs though. (Marylanders, nod along with me here.)
See, blue crabs are something every Marylander knows about and loves to be picky about. For example, we see “Maryland Blue Crab Cakes” on menus outside of the state of Maryland and we chuckle. We know a Maryland crab cake. And unless you’re actually IN Maryland, sorry to tell you this, but it probably ain’t the real deal. A true Maryland crab cake is a golden patty of fresh chucks of white crab meat—no breadcrumbs.
I’m not hear to talk about crab cakes though. Today is all about this Old-Bay-spiced, addictingly delicious crab dip. But first. A few more things you need to know about crabs.
Possibly the most important part of enjoying a Maryland blue crab is appreciating where crabs from. I’m not going to get into the details of the delicate ecosystem that is the Chesapeake Bay and how it needs to be saved but you can read more about that at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s website, here. What I’d like to highlight is the fact that if you are eating blue crabs, that means someone likely woke up before the sun rose, and caught those crabs fresh. I have many fond memories of my dad and I waking up while it was still dark, grabbing a pack of powdered donuts for breakfast, and hitting the neighborhood dock with our gear—some chicken necks, twine, a bushel, and a metal net. We’d tie on about 6-8 strings of chicken, toss them in the Bay and over the course of a few hours, we had about a half a bushel of crabs. We’d take those home and if dad was lucky, he’d sneak a nap in before we steamed and ate them for dinner later that day. Catching the crabs yourself sure makes them taste extra good. 🙂
So let’s talk about what to do when you don’t live in Maryland. Don’t worry, you can actually buy canned lump crab meat in the seafood section of the grocery store. It will be refrigerated. If it’s not refrigerated and/or it’s next to the tuna fish, it’s not what you want. You can also tell by the price. A 16oz can of lump crab meat up here in Pennsylvania costs about $20.
Now that you know how to pick out good lump crab meat like a true Marylander, let’s get to the recipe…