|Summertime and the Living Is Easy
When You Carry Out from Annapolis Seafood Market
By Kim Cammarata
On our umpteenth drive past Annapolis Seafood Market, my husband insisted that this time we stop. We were returning from the Anne Arundel County SPCAs annual Walk for the Animals fund-raiser just down the road at Quiet Waters Park and had worked up a good appetite on our five mile trek.
We parked in the ample lot and strolled inside, expecting to choose some fresh fish to cook for dinner. Instead, we were surprised to find not just a fine selection of fresh and frozen seafood but also an extensive carryout menu including appetizers, soups, sandwiches and full dinners. Many items can be bought either cooked or ready to cook at home.
As the word market in the name suggests, Annapolis Seafood Market is a strictly carryout establishment. Youll find no seating here, no décor or ambiance. The tile floors and stainless steel display cases and freezers are clean and practical.
Nevertheless, this place is a sensory treat. What could be more beautiful to a hungry patron than fresh, whole fish nestled in mounds of ice or soft shell blue crabs lined up like soldiers on a display case shelf? What could make stomachs growl emptily more than the spicy aroma of crabs and shrimp steaming?
Our stomachs growled mightily on this first visit as, overwhelmed, we salivated over the fresh fish and prepared foods cases. Of course, the markets variety and price of fresh seafood varies according to availability. On this day, we chose rockfish filets, my husbands favorite, which the counterman packed in a plastic bag with some ice upon request. I later baked the fish with a coating of toasted oats and herbs and a drizzle of butter. It was fresh and delicious.
We also took home a pint of cream of crab soup ($5.99). It was very thick and very rich with a wonderful crab flavor, hints of nutmeg and sherry and enough pieces of crabmeat throughout to satisfy. Other soups include Maryland vegetable crab and New England clam chowder (both at $3.29/pint) and soup of the day. All soups are made fresh at the market daily and are also available by the cup or quart.
To round out our feast, we chose market-made crab balls ($18.99/lb.). They heated up crisp and tasty in the oven, but I was disappointed with the multiple pieces of cartilage I found in every golf ball-sized morsel. My husband found nary a piece in his, so perhaps I just had bad luck.
On my next visit, I went for the Luscious Lobster Lover steamed seafood supper for two (market price, about $54 in early June), which features two one-pound lobsters, a pound of large shrimp and a pint of the decadent cream of crab soup plus cocktail sauce and a chunk of butter to melt at home. Delicious and perfectly prepared. We stuffed ourselves and still had enough lobster left for a nice bisque later in the week.
Four different combinations of steamed suppers are available. Call to order at least one hour before you pick it up.
The jumbo lump crab cakes ($25.99/lb.) called me back again a couple weeks later. I bought three baseball-sized beauties to cook at home. They were everything a crab cake should be: lots of succulent lumps of crab, mildly seasoned, with barely enough binder to hold it all together. The label offered cooking instructions, and the cashier assured me that I could call the kitchen if I had any questions.
Crab cakes are also offered as baked or fried platters (backfin $14.99 with fries and slaw), sandwiches (backfin $6.99, jumbo lump $13.99) or in some of the specialty combination platters.
The markets shrimp salad is exceptional: big shrimp (actually theyre small shrimp, but they look huge compared to the tiny shrimp usually found in shrimp salad) seasoned with onion and dill and bathed in mayonnaise. Buy it plain ($12.99 /lb.) or as a sandwich ($4.99) or sub ($6.99).
Dont miss the fried Atlantic whitefish sandwich ($2.99, sub $5.99). No square, formed fish here. The tender filet is coated with a light, crispy batter that is not greasy at all. Served on a hearty white roll with lettuce, tomato and a generous serving of onion-studded tartar sauce on the side, this treat raises the humble fried fish sandwich to new heights.
Annapolis Seafood Market also provides a selection of party platters that include crab balls, crab dip, shrimp, smoked seafood, caviar and whole poached salmon. They will also ship seafood anywhere in the country.
There are also Annapolis Seafood Markets in Severna Park and Waldorf.
Annapolis Seafood Markets
1300 Forest Drive, Annapolis 410/269-5380
Park Plaza, Ritchie Hwy., Severna Park 410/544-4900
Route 301, Waldorf 301/870-6800
Proprietor: Charles Bassford
Reason to go: Annapolis Seafood Markets promise, All of our seafood products are unconditionally guaranteed! If you are not satisfied, in any way, we will on the spot refund your money, exchange your purchase, suggest another product or issue a full store credit!
Something to think about: Plan ahead for steamed meals, platters and whole poached salmon.
by Kim Cammarata