(by Chanell Hale)
When I was a young girl, it didn't take me long to figure out what my favorite food was. My mother was no gourmet chef, but when my brother and I saw her standing over the big pot and steamer on the stove, we knew there would be a wonderful night of feasting on crab legs. As the aroma of Old Bay Seasoning filled our South Side Chicago home, we became less and less patient and more and more excited. Mom would spread newspaper across our round glass kitchen table and put the huge pot right in the middle. We immediately forgot anything outside of that kitchen.
When we sat down to enjoy crab legs with each other, we felt like everything in life was good. We stayed at the table, cracking our crab legs, for what felt like hours. There was a bowl of melted butter and little slices of lemons spread across the table—we cracked and dipped and squeezed. Everyone competed over who could crack our crab legs best, pulling out the biggest morsel, waving it around the table and bragging about our technique and precision. We waved our victories not only with pride but also caution because if you waved it around too long or too far out of reach, it was up for grabs. I had so many pieces of crab snatched right out of my hand, by my brother and sometimes even my mom. And every once in a while, I would get a piece of their crab too. All was fair in love and crab legs.
As we indulged in our feast, all we felt was pure joy. Over the hours, the table became covered in broken shells, and the room echoed with laughter. I'm so grateful for those times. Now, if I indulge in crab legs, I think back to my younger years in that kitchen with the lime green walls—it’s like a trip home. Recently, for my mom’s birthday, I surprised her by inviting her closest friends for a crab feast, and the room was once again filled with joy and laughter. Thank you, Ma, for starting the tradition. Love you.
3 - 4 lb. snow crab legs
Old Bay Seasoning
butter (salted or unsalted), melted
Place crab legs in a steamer basket in a stockpot.
If necessary, bend crab legs at joints to fit in steamer basket.
Add water to just below the basket.
Sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning to taste.
Zest fresh lemons over the crab legs.
Bring to a boil, cover, and steam 5 - 6 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
To remove the meat, twist legs at joints or split shell using kitchen shears, and peel back.
Serve with melted butter and fresh lemons.