My process of cleaning the hard-shell crabs for making stock is similar to preparing the soft-shell ones. The difference is removing the entire carapace in order to get to the yellow-orange matter and keeping the pointy legs intact. The hard-shell crabs are much stronger and faster than the soft-shell ones so you need to work a little faster and apply some pressure when removing the carapace. I remove these parts with my fingers but you can use scissors with pointy tips--carapace (dorsal shell), the gills on each side of the body, and the V-shaped apron on the abdomen. Scoop out the yellow-orange innards and reserve it in a separate bowl. For me, the best way to remove the most of this innards is to use a pointy flat knife. They are found in the interior of the carapace and on the middle of the body just underneath the carapace. Once these tasks are complete, rub the crabs with a little salt, rinse the prepared crabs in cold water, strain and place them in a clean bowl or pot to be used. Save the scooped out roe and crab mustard and keep them refrigerated until ready to use.
|lift up with one thumb just under one side of the carapace while|
holding onto the belly with the other hand and push
with that thumb (while applying some pressure)
to separate the entire carapace
|separating the carapace from its body|
|carapace and crab body|
|pull out the gills on each side of the body and discard|
|ventral view (belly side)--mouth parts, apron, pointy legs|
|pry open the apron with the tip of scissors or knife,|
pull off the apron and discard
|remove the roe and crab mustard found on the middle of the body and save|
|remove the roe and crab mustard from the interior of the carapace and save|
|prepared crabs with roe and crab mustard|
|may rinse and strain crab roe and crab mustard if interested|
*If you are planning on crushing the crabs then you may keep the point legs intact to save time. Removing them makes no difference in your stock.
*In my family we clean the prepared seafood with a salt rub (about 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon) and then wash with cold water several times to rinse off the salt. You can also do the same by using vinegar (about 2-3 tablespoons) to wash then rinse with cold water immediately. Do not allow the seafood to soak in the salt or vinegar.
*When preparing the crabs you may want to wear gloves to prevent injury. I find that wearing 2 layers of the exam gloves to be most helpful when cleaning the crabs. You may purchase these exam gloves at your local pharmacy store or online.