Maryland blue crab sauce over pasta ‘delightful dish’ | Food for Thought

(July 1, 2022) Mutual correlations in human perceptions and sensory receptiveness are key components in the acknowledgment of “taste.”

The theory of colloidal chemistry is an intricate part in the art of sauce making.

A colloid is the presence of a small article in another substance. Fusion keeps menus interesting, which keeps guests coming back for more.

Crisfield, Maryland is long known as the “crab capital of the world.” Maryland blue crabs are a delicacy and a tradition on the Eastern Shore.

Maryland blue crab sauce over pasta is such a delightful dish and yet you do not see it on many menus.

What one will find is marinara sauce embellished with crab. Locals know this is not a true crab sauce.

Let us deconstruct a Maryland blue crab sauce for complete comprehension.

Making tomato sauce from fresh summer tomatoes is not only time consuming but is a very detailed process where knowledge and understanding is imperative.

The sauce should have a bright, fruity aroma and a flavor of barely cooked tomatoes.

In addition, the sauce should also have a concentrated consistency and deep, sweet notes which can only be achieved by cooking off much of the natural water that caramelizes the fruit’s natural sugars.

Finally, all seeds and skins need to be removed. This takes a lot of time and is not an option for the average cook.

Good quality canned tomatoes are the preferred choice. I find that crushed tomatoes yield a consistency that is conducive for a Maryland blue crab sauce.

The tomato sauce has to be able to support the hard-shell crab and yet not overpower the delicate crab meat.

A few pinches of baking soda will help alleviate the acidity of the tomatoes. The sauce will start to foam and this is normal. Too much baking soda will cause the sauce to turn bitter.

A splash of heavy cream and a touch of chicken stock will give the sauce more depth of flavor.

One might be surprised what goes into a “tomato” sauce.

Cooking live blue crabs in the sauce is the secret. The juices of the crabs will add a natural flavor that cannot be replaced with any type of seasoning.

Once the crabs are cooked, remove from the sauce and allow to cool. Remove the outer hard shell, lungs and gills. Break the crab in half and place them back into the sauce with the claws.

This process should be done over a bowl with a mesh strainer. Any juices that escape while opening the crabs are added back to the sauce.

A few tablespoons of Zatarain’s Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil in a bag and seafood stock take the sauce to another level.

The piece de resistance is to garnish the dish with jumbo lump crab meat.

Maryland blue crab sauce over pasta is a feast. Crab sauce, pasta, hard shell crab for the picking, and jumbo lump crab are fun and perfect for July 4th celebrations. Enjoy!

Maryland Blue Crab Sauce Over Pasta


2 dozen live crabs

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 head of garlic, minced

1 large yellow onion, finely diced

2 (1 pt. 8 oz.) favorite non dark beer

3 rounded teaspoons chicken base

3 rounded teaspoons seafood base

6 (28 oz.) cans of good quality crushed tomatoes

1 (12 oz.) can of good quality tomato paste

2 tablespoons of Zatarain’s Crawfish, Shrimp, and Crab Boil in a Bag

4 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning

3 tablespoons dried oregano

3 tablespoons dried basil

1 ½ tablespoons dried thyme

2 teaspoons crushed pepper flakes

1 cup parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnishing

3 bay leaves

few pinches of baking soda

splash of heavy cream

1 pound jumbo lump crab meat

favorite pasta

1. In a large Dutch oven or pressure cooker, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil over medium-low heat until vegetables become translucent, about 7 minutes.

2. Add the remaining ingredients except for the live crab, crab meat, pasta and cheese for garnishing. Turn the heat to medium high. When the sauce is very hot, add the live crabs and cook until the shells turn orange.

3. Remove crabs and allow to cool. Remove the outer shell, lungs, and gills.

Break the crabs in half and add back to the sauce with the claws. This should be done over a bowl with a mesh strainer. Any juices that escaped should be added back back to the sauce.

4. Prepare your favorite pasta.

5. Serve sauce with hard shell crab over pasta. Garnish with jumbo lump crab and a dusting of parmesan cheese.

Secret Ingredient Hard work. “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”

— Colin Powell


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