Guide To Picking Crabs

While many people may be intrigued by the idea of hosting their own crab feast, the thought of picking crabs by hand may cause them some alarm. The crab can seem like an inaccessible crustacean. Unlike the lobster, which requires little more than a quick snap of the tail to access mounds of sweet, white meat, crabs require a bit more work for smaller payloads. However, what you lose in size you gain in taste. In addition, the ritual of sitting around a large table in the warm air of a summer evening picking crabs with loved ones is a highly-revered tradition. Here are some guidelines to picking your own. Study up and you will be hosting your own crab feasts in no time.

The blue crab
When we talk about picking crabs, we are referring to the blue crab. These crustaceans come in a variety of sizes and are caught all around the world. They are the symbol of the Chesapeake Bay, but due to increases in demand and the bay’s faltering water quality, more and more blue crabs are being caught in places like Asia and Louisiana. No matter where they come from, picking them remains the same.

The claws
The best place to start on a crab is with the two front claws. Break them off at the joint where they meet the body and then separate them into two parts at the middle joint. Break through the shell of the arm with a knife and mallet to get at the meat inside. Carefully pry apart the pincers and the claw meat should come right out.

The body
Extricating the meat from the body takes a bit more precision work. The first step is to remove all the legs. If done carefully, you may find that some meat come out with each leg as your remove it. The next task is to use the tip of a knife to pry open the crab’s breastplate. Doing so will create a small hole at the base of the body. Insert your knife and pry off the shell. The remaining part (the “stomach”) contains many chambers full of meat. To access them, cut off the head part and scrape clean what remains. Be sure to remove the feathery gills and the yellow guts. The next step is to cut this in half lengthwise. Open up each half and you will find the jumbo lump meat as well as all the tasty backfin, the most highly prized of all crab meat.

Recommended Posts