1. Turn the crab over so that its belly faces you. Using your fingers, lift up its heart-shaped apron, or tail, and pull it back to snap it off of the body.
2. Using your hands or a table knife, remove the top shell from the bottom of the body, twisting and prying it off.
3. Remove the gills, often called "dead man's fingers", which are attached to either side of the crab. (The yellowish "mustard" and orange roe are edible.) Crack the body down the center.
4. Press lightly on the body where the back legs, or "swimmers", are attached and pop out the backfin meat in the rear of the crab. Extract the rest of the body meat with your fingers. Remove the claws.
5. Using a cracker or a small wooden mallet, gently crack open the claws. Scrape the meat out of the claws with your fingers or a table knife.