Eating crab in restaurants or at home is always fun. It is a whole new experience when you buy fresh live crabs and cook them at home. Its a lot more interesting and fun filled. Many of my readers have requested to explain the cleaning process and here is how I do it….
Back in India someone use to go the seafood market and grab a bag full of fresh crabs, all tied in ropes and it was all fun watching the clean process but when we have to clean it ourselves and we hesitate a lot. In reality its not that bad, may the first time it might be little difficult but once you master the skills, you will clean it in no time. I usually target Chinese or Oriental markets for fresh blue crabs which are similar to our Indian crabs. I call them first and ask whether they carry fresh live crabs and then drive up to get the catch!
HOW TO CLEAN LIVE CRAB AT HOME / HOW TO CLEAN BLUE CRABS / CLEANING CRAB FOR BEGINNERS / HOW TO CLEAN CRAB STEP BY STEP WITH PICTURES / CRAB CLEANING PROCEDURE / CLEAN CRAB FOR BEGINNERS / KITCHEN BASICS / TIPS / NANDU / HOW TO CLEAN NANDU
|Things that you need|
|Crabs||As many as you can handle|
|Tongs||1 (a long one for sure)|
|Kitchen scissors / shears||1 (heavy duty)|
Look for fresh crabs that are active, grab a brown bag and using thongs pull them one by one which actually tough as they tend to hold one another and never let go…. use all your energy and grab as many as you want. Close the bag and dump them in another plastic bag and tie a knot to stop them from escaping while you drive.
There are a couple of ways to actually make them less active
- You may put them in a pot of hot water and remove. – this actually partially cooks the crab and it loose all the essence and flavor.
- Tightly seal them in a bag and freeze for few hours. – this actually makes your freezer stink and also kills them. Dead crabs are not good anyways…
- You may immerse them in ice water – it may make them immobile for sometime.
We at home like our crabs really happy and my son actually enjoys the cleaning process -they being feisty. Pick them one at a time using a tong, make sure you grab at the back of the shell.
Most of the American grocery stores sell snow crab, which often are pre cooked and has no big flavor nor flesh. Sometimes we see Dungeness crabs, which are really huge and makes the cleaning difficult. Most Chinese stores have this cute little Blue crabs which i guess are farm raised and taste similar to Indian varieties.
These are the blue crab beauties which we grabbed from Chinese market, pretty active! Make sure you dump them in a big pot with high sides, so that they don’t jump out and escape. Using a tong lift one at a time and place them on a cutting board.
The right way to hold the live crab is to keep them shell side up, to keep them off from biting with claws. But in our case, we flip for second to immobilize them and using a heavy duty kitchen scissors cut off all the legs and claws. In some case the swimming legs are discarded(tiny legs) but you may use- no harm.
You may use your hands if your comfortable but i use a scissors to avoid cuts and bites. Just use the a long tong & scissors… its safe! Repeat the same for rest of the crabs.
Now bring them to the sink and brush off all the dirt and rinse them.
Now, we have to clean the stomach portion. First remove the flap like portion(looks like an apron) on the back side of the crab. Wash the crabs thoroughly under running water.
The flap will be loose, just open it as shown. Gently lift up the apron of (the flap of shell on its belly) to take the carapace (hard shell) off.
Apply some pressure and tear it out.
Now we have to remove the outer shell.
Hold firmly as shown – place the shell side on your left hand, using your thumb and index, pull the soft shell from the hard shell. It will need some effort and strength to separate. Stick your finger in the hole left in the apron and pull out the carapace(hard shell).
Once the hard shell is removed your can discard that and soft shell will look like this. Remove all the gray gills and discard.
Then, rinse the crabs lightly under running water. Back in India, i have seen people cook with the gills and had no issues and actually seem to like it. But I usually discard them.
Now you will see just a little gooey yucky yellow stuff in the middle. Again these are considered delicacies and often included in cooking to give thickness to the gravy. Its a little gross, lets rinse it off in running water.
Rinse them thoroughly in running water.
This is how it looks when everything is cleaned.
You may use them as a whole stomach or cut them into two for easy eating.
Now your crab is all ready for cooking.
- Always clean crab thoroughly before cooking, remove all dirt by rinsing in cold water.
- Never buy dead crab, they are poisonous.
- Legs and claws can be slightly crushed with a pestle before cooking for the essence to blend with gravy, also makes the flesh seasoned well. It also makes easier while eating.
- You may wear gloves to clean but we use bare hands, its much comfortable!