Quick Recipes and Easy

How to Cook Live Crab

Catching blue crabs from a pier–how that takes me back to my young-girl days growing up near the Gulf Coast. As a kind of fishing, crabbing was as simple at it got, as long as the crabs were abundant. Just tie a chicken neck to a crab net, lower the net into the water, then check it every 5 minutes or so. Sometimes you would pull the net up to find three or four crabs fighting over that piece of chicken.

Catching crabs usually leads to cooking them, and that in turn usually means boiling them alive, as you would with a lobster. While some people are squeamish about this, it’s really the only way to prepare fresh crab and make sure you won’t get sick from eating it. That’s because crab (again, like lobster) tends to decay quickly following death. It really requires immediate cooking.

So, here’s how to do the deed:

1. Get a huge pot or pan, fill it 2/3 full of water, and bring to a rolling boil on top of the stove.

2. While the water is boiling, pour in about 1/4 cup of salt.

3. When the water returns to boiling, drop in the live crab.

4. Boil for 15 to 25 minutes. The larger the crab is, the longer you should boil it.

5. Pour everything into a sink and thoroughly rinse the crab in cold running water.

Now, that was the simple part of preparing a crab to be eaten. Getting at the meat after it has been cooked is trickier, especially if you’ve never done it before.

First, you should twist off the legs and claws and set these aside. Next, hold the crab’s body, head upward, and smack the bottom edge against a counter surface or chopping board. Lay the crab on its back and, with your thumbs, push the center of its body out of the shell. You’ll see a small sac just behind the mouth of the crab–pull this out and throw away. You also should be able to recognize gills connected to the center part of crab; these should also be discarded.

You’ll find meat in four places on the crab. What remains of the center part after you have followed the instructions above will be meat; just section it or pull it apart to use it. There will also be meat attached to the inside of the shell, which you can scoop out with a spoon. You will certainly want to retrieve the tasty meat to be found in the claws–do this by cracking the claws with something heavy such as a mallet. Finally, the legs themselves will contain some meat, which you can get at in the same way you do the claws.

That wasn’t so hard, was it? Now that you have your crab meat, you can use it in a host of recipes or simply eat it as is. Here are instructions for an simple-to-make crabmeat spread:


2 cups cooked crab meat

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/4 cup minced parsley or parsley flakes

1/4 cup dried basil

2 tablespoons minced onion

1/4 teaspoon salt

Black pepper



1. Mix crab meat, lemon and lime juice, parsley, basil and onion in a bowl.

2. Add enough mayonnaise to the mix to make all the ingredients stick together. Add the salt and some black pepper to taste, and stir well.

3. Place bowl in refrigerator. Chill at least two hours (overnight is fine).

4. Serve spread with crackers or with pita bread cut into small wedges.

Sarah Sandori is the food and entertaining columnist for the solid-gold.info/index.html Solid Gold Info Writers Consortium. Have you ever wanted to be able to exactly duplicate a favorite dish from a favorite restaurant? Check out Sarah’s article where she reveals her source for the most mouth-watering secret restaurant recipes in America: solid-gold.info/most-wanted-recipes.html solid-gold.info/most-wanted-recipes.html

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