Since moving to Baltimore in 1993, Duff Goldman has made the brackish creeks that flow into Chesapeake Bay his home away from the bakery. When he's not making cakes or shooting his new show, Sugar High, he is a man on a mission, hunting for Maryland's famous blue crabs. "Crabbing is the world's best waste of time," Duff jokes. "You have to catch them one at a time, and you have to catch a bunch to get enough meat, so you bring along your friends and your brew of choice and make a day of it."
Of course, there are easier ways to get crabmeat, and Duff was happy to point us in the right direction. We went with him to one of his home state's biggest crab feasts, the Maryland Seafood Festival outside of Annapolis, and while he picked his way through a pile of fresh crabs, he filled us in on how he catches them—and more important, how he turns them into dinner.
How to catch 'em
1. Find a spot close to the shore in shallow water.
2. Use chicken necks as bait: They are meaty but have a bone through them, so the crabs have something to latch onto. Tie the bait to a string and lower it into the water all the way to the bottom.
3. Wait a while and pull the string back up; if there is a crab on it, use a net to snag it.
4. Don't worry about making too much noise: Unlike fish, crabs are not scared away by loud sounds.
How to cook 'em
1. Pour some beer (2 to 3 inches) into the bottom of a large pot with a steamer insert. Bring it to a boil over high heat.
2. Toss live blue crabs into the pot (they should be moving before you cook them), then cover and hold the lid in place for a few minutes.
3. Add some Old Bay Seasoning to the pot, cover and steam about 30 minutes, or until the crabs turn bright orange to light red.
4. Remove the crabs and dump them on a newspaper-lined table. Serve with apple cider vinegar and more Old Bay.
Stop by the Maryland Seafood Festival September 10 and 11 at Sandy Point State Park. Visit mdseafoodfestival.com for details.
Photographs by Keller + Keller