Handling and Cooking

1. Hard-shell crabs are picked of their meat after cooking.

• Simmer 10 to 15 minutes in salted water (^2 cup salt per gallon or 30 mL per liter). Cool rapidly in ice water.

• Break off the pointed shell on the underside (called the apron) and remove the top shell.

• Remove and discard the spongy gills and the stomach, which is just behind the eyes.

• Crack the legs and claws with a mallet or the back of a heavy knife and pick out the meat.

2. Soft-shell crabs.

• With a knife or shears, cut off the head section,just behind the eyes.

• Lift the pointed, outside corners of the top shell and pull out the spongy gills.

• Cut off the apron, the small flap on the underside.

• Dredge the crab in flour for sauteing, or bread or batter it for deep-frying.

Figure 14.15 Cleaning soft-shell crabs.

Figure 14.15 Cleaning soft-shell crabs.

(a) Soft-shell crabs, seen from the bottom and top.

(b) Cut off the head just behind the eyes.

(a) Soft-shell crabs, seen from the bottom and top.

(b) Cut off the head just behind the eyes.

(c) Pull out the stomach sac.

(d) Pull back one side of the soft top shell to reveal the feathery gills.

(c) Pull out the stomach sac.

(d) Pull back one side of the soft top shell to reveal the feathery gills.

(e) Pull off the gills. Repeat on the other side.

(f) Cut off the apron on the underside. The wide apron indicates that this is a female crab. Males have a much narrower apron.

(e) Pull off the gills. Repeat on the other side.

(f) Cut off the apron on the underside. The wide apron indicates that this is a female crab. Males have a much narrower apron.

3. Frozen crabmeat.

• Crabmeat is usually watery.You may need to squeeze out excess moisture before cooking.Whenever possible, save the liquid for use in sauces and soups.

• Frozen crabmeat is already cooked. It needs only to be heated through to be prepared for serving.

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