First things first—which crustacean tastes best? Traditional blue crabs are delicious and sweet (just ask anyone from Maryland), but West Coast Dungeness crabs tend to be larger and yield more meat than their East Coast counterparts. The choice is yours.
Once you've got your hands on some crabs, it's on to the steaming. Go the traditional route with straight-up beer or jazz it up with vinegar (apple cider is our favorite), seasonings (think classic Old Bay or a more daring madras curry), and aromatic vegetables (lemongrass, herbs, citrus rinds). Fill a pot fitted with a steamer rack with about three inches of liquid, bring it to a boil, then add the crabs (belly down) into the pot. Sprinkle each crab with a tablespoon of your seasoning of choice, then cook covered for 10 minutes.
Remove the crabs from the pot and allow to cool for just a couple of minutes, until you can handle them. Cover your table with newspaper and pile the crabs right on top.
Now get ready to get your hands dirty—it's time to break apart the crab (see the slideshow).