Fresh softshells don’t have to be cleaned. All parts are edible if the crab is cooked alive. If you plan to keep crabs for more than a few hours, however, you should clean them. Ask your fishmonger to do it for you—or prepare them yourself, using this simple method.
1. Hold a live crab in one hand and, with the other, snip off the eyes and mouth with scissors. Squeeze out the innards through the opening.
2. Turn the crab over and snip away the turned-under tail, known as the apron.
3. Turn the crab over again and, with your fingers, lift up one pointed corner of the crab’s outer shell. Pull out and discard gill; repeat process on the other side, removing the other gill. The crab is now ready to be cooked.