How to Clean Crabs

By Farideh Sadeghin

Published on April 21, 2014

There are two basic kinds of crabmeat: the white, firm, sweet meat of the body, often sold as “lump,” and the darker, more strongly flavored leg and claw meat. Chef Charlie Branford of Local Ocean Seafood in Newport, Oregon, shared his technique for cleaning Dungeness crab, though the method works just as well for blue crabs and other similarly structured varieties. If starting with a live crab, kill the crab by stabbing it between the eyes with the tip of your knife, then steam or boil it for eight minutes per pound (about 15 minutes per crab).

1 Place a cooked, cooled crab upside down in a shallow bowl to catch any juices; reserve juices for stock.

2 Remove the thin, pale triangular apron on the underside by flipping it up with your thumb, away from the mouth; pull toward back of shell and discard.

3 Turn crab over. While holding the body in place, pry off the carapace—it should detach easily. Rinse top shell and reserve for stock.

4 Using your fingers, remove the spongy gills; remove the hinged mouth by breaking it off on either side. Discard gills and mouth, along with organs. Rinse the body; break in half.

5 Detach the legs and claws from the body; using a mallet or cracker, break them open and remove meat with a seafood pick.

6 With the leg sockets facing upward, slice each half of the body lengthwise and remove the meat; reserve shells for stock.

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