Freshly steamed crabs can make a delicious dish for anyone who lives near the coast or has access to live crabs. Crab can be prepared using several different methods, but simply steaming a fresh crab with a few seasonings can provide diners with a memorable meal. Crab steamers come in a variety of styles and sizes. When purchasing one of these steamers, the buyer should consider whether he is going to be cooking inside or outside, how much crab he will be preparing on a regular basis and how versatile he needs the pot to be. Steamers can be purchased at several retail locations, including kitchen supply stores and online retailers.
Crab steamers usually consist of three basic parts. The outer or lower part of the pot rests on the heat source and provides a reservoir for the steaming liquid. The upper pot or basket holds the crabs in place — suspended above the boiling water — during the cooking process. The final part is a heavy lid that helps keep the crabs and steam from escaping the pot.
For cooking indoors on a gas or electric stovetop, many cooks use a large aluminum or enamel stockpot. These are versatile pots that come in many sizes and usually provide enough cooking space to prepare steamed crabs for a small family. Buyers should look for stockpots that come with a couple sizes of steamer baskets, so they can easily prepare different serving sizes. The large size of these pots can make them difficult to clean and store, so it is important for the consumer to make sure he or she has space in the kitchen for this pot before bringing it home. This type of pot also can be used to prepare large quantities of pasta, stock, soup and boiled seafood.
Using a crab steamer outdoors can be fun, but it may require the cook to buy an outdoor propane cooker stand along with the crab steamer. These cookers typically hook up to a propane tank and are capable of bringing large pots of liquid to a boil. This setup generally allows the cook to use a larger crab steamer and prepare enough food for a party or family get-together. Buyers may want to select the pot they want and then choose a cooker stand that will easily accommodate the crab steamer. This combination can be used to prepare crab on the beach during the summer and to deep fry a turkey for Thanksgiving.