If eating crabs at home, you need to prepare the table and
get the necessary tools. We suggest
placing a plastic table cloth on the table, then either a few layers of old
newspaper, or a sheet of butcher paper.
(A quality Carryout Crab House
will sell rolls of butcher paper and it is a good idea to pick up one for your
use.) The paper absorbs most of the
juice from the crabs and makes clean-up easier.
(Suggestion: instead of placing
the discarded shells directly on the paper, place them in bowls. When a bowl gets full, simply dump the
contents into a paper bag. This makes
the clean-up faster.)
A small knife is a good tool to use. You also might want a crab mallet to help you
crack open the claws. Something cold to
drink and you are all set.
You should follow the “house rules” if a pile of crabs are
placed on a table for several people to share.
In some circumstances, the unspoken rule is the crab you touch first, is
the one you should pick up and eat. In
other situations, it may be okay to pick up a couple of crabs, and then select
the one you want, typically the heaviest one for its size.
Opening the Crab
Take off and discard the crab’s apron. Pop off the shell with your thumbs, or hold
one side of the legs with one hand, and the shell in the other hand to pull off
the shell. Grab the claws, one at a
time, and pull them off the crab (save them to eat in just a bit). Then remove each leg. Later you can break
open each leg above and below the middle joint.
Squeeze, or use the small knife to remove and eat the morsel of
meat. For small size crabs this may not
be worth the effort, but for the larger, heavier crabs, you will be rewarded
with some additional meat.
Check the Meat
Is the crab safe to
eat? Once the crab is open, if there
is a nasty order, or if the meat is mushy – do not eat it. In most cases a crab with a nasty odor, or
mushy meat, was dead before it was cooked.
Eating such a crab can cause you unpleasant stomach problems. If you are not sure, it is best to discard
the crab completely. This is why you do
not open and eat the meat from the claws or legs prior to this point. If the inside of the crab is bad, you need to
discard its claws and legs as well.
Do you eat the crab’s
Mustard? Most crab eaters enjoy the crab’s Mustard and consider it a
delicacy. This yellowish substance found
in the in the middle of the inner crab, and hiding in the points of the shell
is NOT Fat as some people believe. It is
actually an organ only found in crabs and lobsters called the hepatopancreas, a
component of the crustacean’s digestive system.
Some toxins from polluted waters can accumulate in
this organ. For this reason and to be on
the safe side, women of child-bearing age, especially those pregnant, and
children less than five years old might not want to consume crab mustard.
Note: all those that supply crabs to Cravin’
Crabs only harvest crabs from non-polluted waters.
Remove the “Devil”
This stringy, bitter tasking,
substance is actually the crab’s lungs. It is a myth that eating the
"devil" will make you sick; it is just that the lungs have an
unpleasant taste. Just use your fingers
to pinch it, or scrape with a knife to discard. Also, cut away the area around the crab's eyes and mouth.
There are several methods to
expose the meat of the crab. Our
approach is to use a knife to cut the left and right sections at a 45 degree
angle. This will result in having one
large section (the bottom) and the two small sections that were cut away. This method clearly exposes the chambers
containing the meat. To extract the meat, use your fingers, or insert the blade
of a small knife carefully into each chamber, keeping the blade close to one of
the chambers side fins. When the blade
is fully inserted, give the knife a bit of twist, remove and eat the meat. Do this for each chamber.
Do not forget about eating the
claws. To open a claw you first break
the lower jaw and pull it out. the meat may come out. There is a fin in the middle, but simply use
your teeth to scrap the meat from the fin.
In most cases the meat will remain in the claw so you have to break it
open. There are two parts to a claw, and
you will want to snap them apart. You
can use a mallet to break into each of the two parts. However, a better approach is to place your
knife on the claw, and hit it with a mallet, or the palm of your hand. All you have to do is make a small break or
cut into the shell. Then give you knife
a twist, and the claw’s shell will open.
That is it! It will take some practice to open and
completed clean a steamed crab, but
this is one type of practice that most people enjoy!
P.S. A dozen or two
of steam crabs along with a dozen steamed ears of corn make a fantastic healthy carry-out dinner! Just call in your order before you leave work
and it will be ready for you to pick up on your way home. Add some delicious shrimp salad and you will
have meal everyone will rave about!
Steamed Crabs are Gluten Free!
The above provided to you as a
service by Cravin’
Crabs; they have Carryout Crab Houses in Baltimore, MD
(www.CravinCrabs.com) and Shrewsbury, PA
Please see the web sites of either
store to view such articles as:
How to properly
prepare Soft Crabs
the BEST Steamed Crabs
Should you purchase Steamed Crabs or Steam Crabs yourself?