Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Crabs, Part 2.5: How to kill and clean them

If you are squeamish about where your food comes from, you might want to skip this post.   On the other hand, if you are ignorant as to where it comes from, then you should definitely read on.

I previously did a three-part series about crabs - how to catch 'em and cook 'em. In the last part of the series I talked about how to kill and clean them, but didn't provide much visual guidance.  Here I will correct that oversight.

Here is a freshly caught and very much alive rock crab.  I have flipped him onto his back (and that is the correct pronoun - he is a male.  See the narrow, pointed plate centered on his abdomen? If he were a female, it would be broad and almost rounded).  When approaching a crab to do this flip, always, always grab him from the back.  He can't reach you there with his pinchers (but he will certainly try!).  Once on his back he will settle right down, and often fold his legs up as if he were asleep.

To cause instantaneous death, hit the crab firmly with something hard right on that central plate. Here I am using Death Bringer (which sometimes also serves as a winch handle on Eolian).  Not only will the crab die instantly, but you will also have broken the main body plate (underneath the tringular one) in two - a necessity for the next step.

Now grasp all the legs on one side, with your index finger laying right along the broken central plate. Roll your hand around that index finger, lifting up the legs and pressing down on the edge of your hand and index finger.  If that central plate has been broken, you'll have a handfull of legs in one hand and the rest of the crab in the other (it takes two hands, but I needed one for the camera).  The second set of legs comes out even easier.

Finally, there are a few unappetizing bits to remove from the legs.  In the picture you can see the crab's gills - those tannish-colored pointed things - just pull them off.  And sometimes some of the unmentionable internals are found still attached.  Usually a quick flick of the wrist will fling them off.

Now, right into the steam bath with those legs, and get the butter melting!

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