How to Cook Fish and Seafood - Recipes and Information
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How To Cook Fish & Seafood

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How to Clean and Cook Live Crabs to Perfection

So you've caught some crabs or brought live crabs from the fishmonger and now got them home. You'll need to think about cleaning your crab first before making some of those delicious crab recipes you've been reading about. Crabs are not known to be clean creatures and the water they are stored in is normally not that fresh, so we will want to scrub them down first.


Cleaning a live crab can be a little daunting or even downright scary to a novice. Those big claws are trying to nip you and you know damn well how painful it's going to be if they get hold. Try wearing some gloves giving yourself a little more confidence in getting started. You'll need a general household scrubbing brush ideally with the handle on top; this makes it easy to hold allowing you to get a lot more vertical force.


Start by getting the crab into the sink or tub. The crab is going to try and stay upright and threaten you with its intimidating claws, so ideally get the crab facing away from you and get the water running onto it and then using one of your palms, push firmly on the outer shell or carapace to hold it down. Crabs are strong for their size, so don't take it too easy on them. Apply high pressure and with your spare How to clean and cook crabshand grab the brush and start scrubbing the carapace really hard with the fresh water running over it. This will get rid of the accumulated grime and at the same time make the crab almost dizzy, so keep scrubbing hard until the back is clean and in turn there shouldn't be any movement from its legs or claws indicating that you've stunned it a little. It's going to be much easier to flip them over and clean the underside now too. Give its body and legs a further good scrubbing, whilst still being prepared for the crab to snap out of its trance unexpectedly.


With a rinsed off clean crab you are now ready for cooking, so grab a pan or pot and add about 5 to 6 quarts of water. Add 1 cup of sea salt to create a seawater simulation, or add actual seawater if convenient. Heat the water to around 100 degrees F which will in turn put the crab to sleep gently. After a few minutes of this, crank on the heat a lot more until you achieve a simmer and cook the crab for around 8 minutes for the first 1lb of weight, then about 6 minutes for the next 1lb and then approximately 5 minutes for every 1lb after that.


Remove the crab, drain off and ideally plunge into a sink or pan containing some iced water. Let it chill for a few minutes, drain off and transfer onto a plate into the refrigerator until you're ready to prepare that crab recipe. This procedure will provide you with lovely moist crab meat.




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