It is best and much easier to extract the flesh after the crab is cooked.
Note: Mud and spanner crabs have a particularly hard shell that can be cracked only with strong equipment. Blue swimmer crabs have a softer shell and fragile legs and claws, and should be handled more gently—use your hands to open the shell.
Claws and Legs
|1. Place the dead crab with the underside up.|
|2. Break off the claws and legs as close as possible to the shell. Do this by twisting them backwards.|
3. Crack the claws with the back of a heavy knife or with crab claw crackers, taking care not to crush the meat.Large claws from the mud crab can be placed flat on a board and cracked at the highest point of the shell.Leg meat may be removed by using your fingers at the thin end to squeeze the flesh out. Alternatively, use a crab fork.
To open the body, first lift up the abdominal flap, twist it off and discard. Slip your thumb or the point of a knife under the shell from the back and gently prise the top shell off.Remove the guts and gills under fast running water.The picture shows the crab before and after the guts are removed.Cut or crack the body section in half.Pick out the meat with a crab fork or skewer, discarding any small pieces of membrane.
Crabs, like rock lobsters, contain a small quantity of roe and milt which can be either eaten with the crab or used in a sauce. The roe that is visible when the abdominal flap is opened has been exposed to the elements and must not be served; use only the roe from inside the body.
Visit the Killing seafood page for tips on how to humanely kill crabs.