With more than 600 miles of shoreline, there’s no doubt you can count on fresh-from-the-bay seafood in Talbot County. The Chesapeake Bay’s holy trinity — crabs, rockfish and oysters — reign supreme here. Dishes featuring these delicacies can be found on every menu, from our down-home crab shacks to our fanciest bistros.
MARYLAND BLUE CRAB
Crab is king along the Chesapeake Bay, and Talbot County is the heart of crab country. Few can resist the sweet, delicate meat that’s produced only by blue crabs. Why blue? They’re so named because Bay crabs have a blueish tint when pulled from the water. They take on a red hue when cooked.
Half the fun is cracking open crabs with a wooden mallet and maneuvering a sharp knife to release their meat. From April to October, you can buy bushels of crab at seafood markets or you can order them by the dozen at restaurants, where they will generally be doused with a good coating of Old Bay Seasoning.
Crab also shows up in soups, salads, and crab cakes — even cheese dip.
Referred to elsewhere as striped bass, rockfish is a year-round treat in Talbot County. The Chesapeake Bay happens to be the spawning ground for up to 90 percent of these fish, making the area’s waterways prime trolling territory.
This large, iridescent fish is distinguished by its thick run of black stripes. Since rockfish has a mild flavor and a firm bite, it’s often served simply grilled with a wedge of lemon. However, it’s not uncommon to see rockfish paired with another of the Bay’s bounty, topped with lump crabmeat or stuffed with creamy crab imperial.
Forget what you’ve heard about enjoying oysters only during months with the letter R in them. Thanks to modern oyster farming techniques, these bivalves are available all year long. Generations of oystermen have tonged for them in the brackish waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The tradition continues today as local watermen harvest the uniquely sweet and plump oysters in Talbot County’s waterways.
The best way to savor the flavor is to order them shucked and served straight up. However, in Talbot County you’ll have a chance to sample them many ways — in a creamy Eastern Shore stew, tucked inside savory pot pies, broiled with bacon and spinach Rockefeller style, fried and dipped in cocktail sauce. Local chefs like to create novel combinations, so keep your eyes peeled for unique presentations like roasted oysters with a dollop of Pernod-fennel cream.
For all the different ways to enjoy oysters, follow our Oyster Trail!
MORE BOUNTY FROM THE BAY
Try some of these lesser-known treasures from our waterways.
- BLACK DRUM: Available spring through autumn, this fish has a flaky, mild flesh.
- CROAKER: This fish is caught mostly by amateur anglers and is so named because it makes a croaking noise.
- FLOUNDER: A master of disguise, this flat fish buries itself on the bottom of the Bay and changes color to blend in. It’s often served sautéed to make the best of its mild, sweet flavor.
- SEA TROUT: A favorite among chefs throughout the Mid-Atlantic, these tasty fish visit the Chesapeake from spring through fall.
- SKATE: Closely related to rays and sharks, this fish has cartilage instead of bones. Skate wing is often sautéed in brown butter and served at fine dining restaurants.
RECIPES TO TRY FOR YOURSELF
Pick up some tasty fish at one of our many seafood markets and try these recipes for a delicious taste of the Bay.
- FRIED OYSTERS: This recipe comes courtesy of Chef Stephen Mangasarian of Banning’s Tavern in downtown Easton.
- JUMBO LUMP CRAB CAKES: This recipe courtesy of Chef Mark Salter of the historic Robert Morris Inn in Oxford.
TALBOT COUNTY IS A FOODIE DESTINATION
Talbot County is acclaimed for its extraordinary restaurants, which run the gamut from waterfront dining to handsome inns and casual pubs to tasty food trucks. You’re sure to find exactly what you’re hoping for no matter your mood. You can also take home a taste of the Chesapeake Bay’s finest, thanks to the many
seafood markets that serve local catch and, in season, bushels of blue crab.