16 Dec2009


Did your mom ever tell you it was rude to read at the dinner table? Going through the day’s headlines while eating lunch or dinner was frowned upon, though my dad definitely used to read the paper at breakfast, but then again, we ate breakfast in the kitchen… So I am pretty sure my mom would have been a bit surprised by this sort of table setting, the dining table covered in Manila paper, with a few selected front pages from recent newspapers adding color and interest…


Many years ago, we used to go to Baltimore, Maryland and have a bucket of steamed crabs at Philips… If I recall correctly, they spread lots of newspaper on a table, dumped a bucket full of steamed crabs with Old Bay Seasoning, and upon request, provided some vinegar to dip the crab meat in, without looking at you funny. I love my seafood with vinegar. They also had these little wooden mallets to smash your crabs with. I loved those occasional trips to the crab houses of Baltimore, if not the furthest reaches into crab country east of Baltimore. So that was the inspiration for our own version of a messy crab dinner at home. We have friends who are chili-crab fiends, so instead of steamed alimango or alimasag, we decided to do a chili crab dinner instead…


Cracking crab pieces can get messy, hence the need for all that newspaper to catch all the splattering… and when you are done eating, you can just roll all that paper up and chuck it in the garbage… When the setting is this informal, guests really get into their crab picking. It’s amazing to watch how different folks deal with the task of extracting the sweet crab meat in all ways possible…


For this dinner, we also served some stir-fried baby bok choy…


…and a platter of wagyu yakiniku that was briefly seared on a cast iron pan on the stove. An easy, comfortable and relaxing meal. Add lots of beer and you are bound to have a great dinner. If only this was what was referred to as a “crab-like mentality”… :)



  1. Vicky Go says:

    This is how they serve crabs & lobsters & crawfish all along the Rastern shores – from Maine to Jersey Shore to Baltimore to Hilton Head to Savannah & even in New Orleans. Of course, not in fancy restos – but in crab shacks & the like. They put newspaper or newsprint over the table, give you a mallet & nut crackers & a whole roll of kitchen towels – at the center of the table, they drop a bucket in the special hole & sorround that w condiments – especially all kinds of hot sauces! I’ve never asked for vinegar, instead I ask for lots of lemon slices that I mix up with the drawn butter bowls they provide. This is my favorite way to eat crabs/lobster/crawfish! Here’s the advice they give re eating crawfish: “You pull the tail & suck the head!!!!”

    Dec 16, 2009 | 2:09 am


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  3. aggy says:

    yumm! i do the same thing with newspapers fro shrimp boils at home :)

    Dec 16, 2009 | 5:15 am

  4. Lilibeth says:

    That’s how they serve crabs too at the Redondo beach pier and I love it with lemon butter sauce!

    Dec 16, 2009 | 6:08 am

  5. natie says:

    those establishments spearheaded the “go green” movement by recycling—love the blue crabs! they’re now heavy and fat, being we’re in the cold months..

    Dec 16, 2009 | 6:34 am

  6. emsy says:

    we use newspapers as placemats practically everyday..so easy to clean up. we only use the real place mats if we have guests…and it’s the best for eating crabs!

    Dec 16, 2009 | 7:59 am

  7. zena says:

    Now that’s finger-lickin’ good.

    Dec 16, 2009 | 8:29 am

  8. millet says:

    “a few selected front pages from recent newspapers”……..very thoughtful, lest someone lose his/her appetite over the dailies’ recent headlines.

    you can have the wagyu and bokchoy, i’m having the crab platter to myself!

    Dec 16, 2009 | 9:27 am

  9. betty q. says:

    Vicky Go: your dried scallops is waiting …I cannot access your e-mail….something to do with not having the right format, daw!

    Dec 16, 2009 | 9:47 am

  10. Peach says:

    What a fun idea! I will copy :-) Have a blessed Christmas!

    Dec 16, 2009 | 10:21 am

  11. Fred Lopez says:

    @Vicky “You pull the tail & suck the head!!!!” YEAH!

    It’s a bit embarrassing sometimes, in a semi formal setting, I have this urge to just suck on some shrimp heads and crab shells. I usually get to enjoy the crab at home after they give it away after dinner.

    Dec 16, 2009 | 2:09 pm

  12. kate says:

    MM, the crabs look amazing :)

    Dec 16, 2009 | 2:47 pm

  13. rie says:

    Hi MM! your chili-crabs looks delicious im salivating. anyway I just want to ask if you have a post on how to clean the crabs before cooking? And if you have a recipe of the chilicrabs you just posted, I love chili crabs but I dont know how to cook it. been searching for the recipe in the internet and have’nt found what im looking for. Thank you in advance.

    Dec 16, 2009 | 8:53 pm

  14. Food Fascination says:

    YUM. We just enjoyed some Dungeness Crabs the other night. My husband is from Maryland, so we always debate which is better, Dungeness or Maryland Blue.

    I really enjoy your blog!

    Dec 16, 2009 | 9:58 pm

  15. junb says:

    “Earth friendly” table setting !!!! With a touch of class of course using International herald news paper :)

    Dec 16, 2009 | 10:05 pm

  16. marilen says:

    Thank you for this post. It is good to see that somewhere in the planet some folks are enjoying my favorite meal!!

    Dec 16, 2009 | 10:06 pm

  17. sunflowii says:

    i LOVE chili crab!!!!!
    so where’s the recipe?

    Dec 16, 2009 | 10:11 pm

  18. butsoy says:

    There was this little crabshack that we go in Rockport, Texas which serves the same thing, crabs, crawfish,shrimps, all dumped in a newspaper covered table. It’s superb! But being Filipinos, we crave for “rice” to go along with it, since it only comes with rolls and corn. So we asked the owner if next time we can bring rice , and she agreed! We even brought patis and suka for sawsawan. It was hilarious ! and No we were not embarassed at all, some people even made comments that it was a smart idea!

    Dec 16, 2009 | 11:33 pm

  19. Vicky Go says:

    @Betty Q: try this one reginacoelisATgmail.com BUT replace AT w @ when you use. Let’s see if I write it as reginacoelis@gmail.com whether it will come out in the post.
    Thanks so much in advance.

    Dec 16, 2009 | 11:54 pm

  20. lee says:

    recipe of chili crab is in the archive.

    Dec 17, 2009 | 6:58 am

  21. Joyce says:

    iht placemats nice. im surprised its not wallstreet journal

    Dec 17, 2009 | 9:56 am

  22. junb says:

    Dec 17, 2009 | 11:01 am

  23. marcial bonifacio says:

    ..for me, more often than not, the best meals are served on an informal setting, no fuss, best way to eat crab..but the crab looks scrumptious!!! happy holidays to everybody!!!

    Dec 17, 2009 | 11:21 am

  24. Lee says:

    i’m currently using Stars & Stripes newspaper as my placemat.

    Dec 17, 2009 | 1:48 pm

  25. Hershey says:

    I think I should do that at home, it is pretty practical and helps people read the news paper also lolz!

    Dec 17, 2009 | 7:20 pm

  26. Connie C says:

    Off topic MM, but I thought you or your readers might enjoy this butternut squash recipe, a low calorie holiday eating:

    Dec 18, 2009 | 4:00 am

  27. kroozer says:

    Hi MM! Where did you get the wagyu? Thanks in advance :)

    Dec 18, 2009 | 7:40 am

  28. Mom-Friday says:

    been a while since I blog-hopped MM, and you just posted my top favorite dishes – anything crabs and pan-seared beef!!! :) nice touch on the newspapers

    Dec 18, 2009 | 9:22 pm

  29. Jewel says:

    Love it! In my house, the newspaper page would be the comics section. :-)

    Dec 18, 2009 | 11:35 pm

  30. sha says:

    there is seafood restaurant in Greece that uses the fish monger papers for table cloth.

    Anyway will I make your first reader from Falmouth Harbour Antigua?

    Hello from the Caribbean.

    Dec 19, 2009 | 8:16 am

  31. Ariel says:

    Sarap, I cook the meanest Dungeness Crab, Peking Style. With scallion, ginger, garlic, oyster/hoisin sauce and some ground pork. That’s a good idea, just like the crab houses in Maryland (remember the movie Jerry Macquire (Show me the money)). In VA, when I worked at least once a week I went to a crab house, got all the frustrations from work out of me when hammering those large size blue crabs with a mallet. In Shanghai, they also have some crab houses.

    Dec 19, 2009 | 12:32 pm

  32. Vicky Go says:

    @ Ariel: I thought the recipe you quoted is more like “Lobster Cantonese” – or maybe not. Lobster Cantonese (which calls for cut-up “uncooked” lobster) calls for garlic, ginger, black bean sauce & ground pork, plus egg stirred in (not beaten at all) at the end & garnished w scallions + a smidgen of sesame oil added off the heat. This would work well w crabs or prawns too. Taught to me by a Cantonese co-worker.
    The first time I tried this, I gashed my thumb trying to cut up the live lobster w a cleaver. Had to rush to Emergency section of a hospital. Dr didn’t think stitches were needed because it was a “clean cut” (cleaver was very sharp) – just bound up tight w a Band-Aid + a booster shot of anti-tetanus. We got home a couple of hours later & I just went back & finished the dish!
    Verdict: Delicious!

    Dec 20, 2009 | 5:15 am

  33. Ariel says:

    @Vicky, your right, I just gave it a name Peking style, it must be Cantonese style of cooking. Sad to hear what happened with you and the lobster. Instead of the black bean I substituted the ground pork since my daughters are so picky. I also put the egg at the last minute. Some last minute stuff, is the secret to some dishes: kare kare – it’s the dash of fried garlic, for palabok it’s also the beaten egg.

    MM, maybe write a recipe about the soup we make from either turkey or ham leftovers. I usually cook either macaroni or shell pasta soup, sometimes adding creme to the stock. This is good comfort food during family gatherings. Specially with the cold weather.

    Dec 21, 2009 | 12:49 am

  34. nina says:

    I also love steamed seafood with vinegar or sometimes vinegar and garlic. yum….

    Dec 26, 2009 | 6:04 pm


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