How to Eat Crab: The Ultimate Guide
Crabs are one of the most popular seafood that people enjoy. They have this sweet, salty, and succulent taste in their meat. While cleaning and cooking crabs are easy, eating them can be messy. First-timers often find it very intimidating. How do you get the meat from under the shell? Can you even eat crab shell? In this guide, we’ll answer these questions and a few more.
Prepare Your Table
Eating real crab is different from eating crab cakes. The juices from the crab, including the fat, can splatter on your table. Some restaurants do not use plates when serving cooked crabs. They often place a large butcher paper on the table. This will help ‘catch’ any juice and debris from your crab-cracking and crab-eating adventure. You will also need a small mallet for cracking the claws of the crab.
A cutting board will also help protect your table. A crab cracking tool will always come in handy. Get two bowls: one for the empty shells and one for the crab meat. A paring knife will be useful in scraping out the inedible parts as well as in removing the meat.
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Open the Shell
If you have a Dungeness crab or an Alaskan king crab, do not get intimidated by their size. Remember, the bigger it is, the more meat you will enjoy. Place the crab with its belly facing up. Slide the paring knife under the crab’s apron. This looks like a small tab in the center of the crab’s belly. If it is a male crab, then you will have an elongated apron. If it is female, the apron will have a wider, wedge shape. Pull the apron backward and break it at its base. Put the apron in one of the bowls.
Flip the crab and insert the knife tip in the space between the removed apron and the shell. Twist the knife to detach the shell from its tissue membranes. Pull the shell out to expose the crab’s inner cavity.
Remove the Crab Parts that are Inedible
With the inner cavity exposed, you will notice spongy tissues on both sides of the crab. They run towards the center of the crab. These are the lungs. Remove the ‘lungs’ by using your hands. If this is yucky, you can use the paring knife or a spoon instead.
You will also see a substance that people like to call ‘mustard’. It is a yellowish-brown substance that you will see in the midsection of the crab. Some people love to eat this because of its stronger flavor than crab meat. It is up to you if you want to remove it or to eat it.
Break the Crab in Two
The midsection of the crab will serve as your guide in breaking it into two halves. Some people like to cut it with the paring knife so that they will have equal halves. Others would rather break the crab in two using their bare hands.
Once halved, you can start digging into the crab meat. Some of them will be dangling from the shell. A small fork or a pick will be very useful in removing as much of the meat from the crab’s body.
Remove the Legs
Snap off the crab legs by holding the body of the crab with one hand and grabbing one leg with the other hand. Pull out the legs one by one by giving it a slight twist. Some meat from the body will go with the base of the leg. You can eat this right away. This is one of the ways on how to eat crab legs.
The more succulent meat is at the base of the backfins or the back legs. You can crack this with a crab cracking tool. This is where you will find most of the crab meat in the legs. As for the middle and leading segments of the legs, you can try to suck the meat out.
Crack the Pincers or Claws
Focus your attention to the claws. This is where you will find the sweetest meat of the crab. You can use a lobster cracker, a nutcracker, or a mallet to crack the claws. Start with a gentle force. You do not want to shatter the shell that bits of shell end up in the meat.
Use a pick or a small fork to remove the meat from the claws. If you were able to crack the claws in a certain way, the whole meat will come out in one solid piece.
Eating crab is fun. Knowing you’ve worked hard to get the succulent crab meat makes the dining experience more meaningful.