To dispatch and clean a crab really isn't that hard. You just need to have a bit of a passion for the finished product to get you through the prep stages. Dreaming of the beautiful crab dipped in melted butter should get even the more squeamish of us through the deeds to be done.
I've been cooking crab for years and years. I used to boil them whole, letting the simmering pot do the dirty work for me. Problem is, I really felt like there had to be a better way, to get an even better product out of such an incredible creature. The frothy boiling water always smelled fishy. The water while it was boiling never looked particularly inviting, and it left me to wonder, could my crab be better if a bit more care was taken first?
The answer is yes!
My method takes a bit more work up front, but I do promise you, the best possible crab on your plate. As well, using my methods I swear you can eat more crab. Fisheries Canada has a warning on how much crab a person should eat. Their quantity has everything to do with the amount of dioxin in the meat when it hits your plate. Through careful preparation prior to cooking, the dioxin level will be reduced which means no matter how much crab you eat, you will have healthier crab for you and your family. Not to mention being able to enjoy more of it!
First things first, to kill a crab:
I won't make this sound prettier than it is. You should place your crab on his back, with his claws away from you, on a good cutting board. Place a sharp knife right in the middle and with a firm movement, press down through his the under part of his shell. This will kill him, and separate the two sides. The top of his shell, which is much thicker and harder to cut through, will not be cut in half, but that's okay.
Remove the top shell:
Working over a sink, and still having the crab laying on his back, take one half of his legs and claw in your hand, and twist this half up and toward the centre. It will easily pull away from the top shell. Do the same with the other side. The top shell is now apart from the two halves. By removing the top shell and boiling the crab this way, the water will not carry the dioxin that is released in the crab's intestines during cooking. Yes, many people enjoy the "crab butter" that is the greenish delicacy in the crab head/body area if they cook the crab whole. Personally, I can skip this "butter" and go straight for the melted, yellow kind instead. To each her own!
You will see the gills, covering the coral (center body meat). The gills are not edible. They are fibrous and somewhat greyish in colour. They easily pull away from the coral. Rinse under cold running water to get the rest of the less lovely "goo" off of your beautiful half crab.
This is where my technique is unique. You will see in the photos of the two halves, that one half looks cleaner than the other. With a simple dish scrub brush, just scrub the under shell area, the legs, between the legs as much as you can and you will see that most of the algae, debris and sediment that the crab spends his time enjoying on the sea floor, will come right off. This is important as it ensures your crab water will stay as clean as possible during the boiling of your beautiful dinner.
HI, I'M KATE
A Captain's daughter, who became a Captain's wife. I remain always, a mermaid out of water looking to get straight back to the sea, whenever possible.