Purchase crab either live or frozen. If you buy live crab, it must be cooked the day of purchase. Frozen crab is most often precooked legs or claws.
- Once you get live crab home, briefly keep refrigerated in a wet newspaper-lined container until preparing for cooking.
Cooking Live Crab
- To steam or to boil? This is a matter of personal taste and much discussion.
- To steam: Add crab to steamer pot with 2 -3 inches of boiling salted water and cook, covered, for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size.
- To boil: Bring 4 quarts water and 4 tbsp salt to a boil in a large pot. Plunge crab into boiling water. Quickly return water to a full boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 8 – 12 minutes, depending on size.
- After cooking, plunge briefly into cold water until cool enough to handle. Clean by holding the crab with one hand, lifting the top shell from the rear and pulling it off. Discard yellow spongy material, lift off gills located on either side of the back and discard. Remove mouth parts, tailpiece and entrails. Flush cavity quickly under cold running water. Serve immediately.
Alternatively, the crab can be cleaned before boiling or steaming. To clean live crab:
- Kill the crab by knocking it, against a corner of a counter, in the center of its underbelly with a determined swift motion. Do this by holding two back legs in each hand and thumbs on the back top shell. Or deliver a swift blow to the center of the underbelly with a rolling pin. These are considered the most humane methods because that is the location of its nerve centre.
- Remove the shell by prying it off from the bottom back and then twist the crab to break in half and shake out the inner guts.
- Remove gills and rinse under running water.
This can be a messy procedure so place papers on the floor around the counter. With practice, this becomes quite easy.
Leftover cooked crab meat can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days.
Cooked frozen legs and claws are easy to reheat by steaming or baking until piping hot.
Other Ways to Buy Crab
- Crab can also be purchased canned in the refrigerator cases; keep refrigerated and use before best before date. Using your fingers, check for bits of the shell before using.
- Imitation crab is made from processed pollock fish that has been flavoured like crab and sold vacuum-packed. Use within 3 days of opening. This is a great option for a quick meal or an omelette, casserole or sandwich.