During February, Eric and I tried to be better about cooking most of our meals at home. We tend to eat out a lot, which can get unhealthy and isn’t good for our budget. As part of our new goal to eat in, we’ve tried out a lot of new recipes. We’re finding some fun things, which has helped to stifle our constant desire to eat out.
Rather than buying canned crab, we decided to experience the fun challenge of shelling and cleaning our own crab. Neither of us had ever cleaned a crab before. Luckily, the recipe requires the avocado soup to chill for an hour before serving, so we had plenty of time to prepare our crab.
We purchased our crab pre-cooked from the seafood department at our local Whole Foods. You can tell it is pre-cooked because of its red color and it is not alive. Most crabs bought in a grocery store will be pre-cooked.
Step 1: Remove the legs
Pull the crab legs away from the body of the crab until they snap off. Set these aside for now.
Step 2: Remove the apron
On the base of the crab, towards the bottom, there is a small flap of bone. Flip this up and break it off at the back of the shell.
The shape and size of the apron indicates the crab’s gender. This is a male crab. You’ll almost always find a male crab when purchasing one from a store or farmer’s market. Females are required to be put back to keep up the crab population.
Step 3: Remove the carapace
Stick your thumb in the hole left by the apron and pull up the large shell from the top of the crab. Lots of guts will come with it. Discard the carapace, as there’s no good meat in it.
Step 4: Remove the lungs
These spongy lungs taste nasty, and can make you sick, so be sure to dispose of them. Fun fact: these are also known as “dead men’s fingers.”
Step 5: Remove the mandibles
These are the mouth parts at the front of the crab. Crack them off and discard.
Step 6: Discard the guts and pull out the meat
There will be a lot of greenish-brown sludgy goo that you’ll want to discard. There will also be a lot of white, yummy meat that you’ll want to keep. You can take the crab to the sink to rinse the goo out, but be careful not to lose any of the good meat. You’ll need to crack pieces of the shell at this stage to ensure you get every last morsel of meat out of the crab.
Step 7: Remove the meat from the legs
Once you get the meat out of the body, crack open the legs and remove their meat as well. We used a cracker, which made the job easier. If you’ve eaten crab legs before, this is the same process.
That’s it! It’s not too difficult or time-consuming once you get going. We chilled our crab for a few more minutes, then used it to top our avocado soup!