Eating a crab is one of the best ways to enjoy fresh seafood. If you get the chance to eat one directly from the shell, don’t miss it. While it may look intimidating, it really is very easy. Sure, you could pay more and get your crab meat already picked for you, but why? You would be missing out on one of the great seafood experiences… picking and eating your own crab!
First of all, protect your table. It will be messy. Cover it with newspaper or a plastic sheet. While you are cleaning the crab, do not rub your eyes with crab-covered hands. And most important… have fun! This makes a fine group activity, so invite your friends and enjoy a bunch of crabs!
Tools You Will Need
Once your table is covered, you will need some dull knives or shrimp forks and a wooden mallet or some nutcrackers. Clarified butter is good to have on hand too, so you can just dip the meat and eat!
Break off the front legs with the claws and set them aside. You will get back to them later. Remove the rest of the legs. If some meat comes out with them, go ahead and get a taste of what is to come.
Flip the crab over. You will see a thin, pointed area in the center of crab. This is called the apron. Use your dull knife to lift if away from the shell. Now you can break this off and put it in your garbage pile.
Once the apron is gone, it is simple to turn the crab over and lift off the carapace; this is the whole top shell of the crab. It just lifts off like a lid. If you are not eating crab right now, just picking the meat, you can clean out the carapace and use it later as a dish for the delicious meat.
Now you can see inside the shell. You will see yellow “crab butter,” long, spongy lungs, and small cubicles full of meat. Some people enjoy eating the crab butter, if you do, scrape it out and save it. If you do not, go ahead and discard it. The lungs are not appetizing, so you can pull them out and discard them.
Now, break the crab in half. If you are cleaning a small crab, you may be able to break in half with your hands. If you are cleaning a larger crab, you may need a cleaver or large sharp knife to cut it in pieces. Breaking the crab in half (or even quartering larger crabs) will make it easier to get to the meat in all those little crannies in the shell.
How to Eat King Crab Legs
Use your dull knife or shrimp fork to help get the little lumps of meat out of the shells. The mallet and nutcracker can be used to crack the shells on the leg segments and claws. Use caution… some varieties of crabs, like King crab, have very sharp points on parts of their legs and claws. Protect your hands so you do not hurt yourself.
Eat the meat as you go or save it to eat later or use in recipes like crab salad, crab cakes or pasta dishes.
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