Sunday, June 17, 2018

How to Prepare Soft-Shell Green Crab for Eating

As a nurse practitioner, if someone comes to the clinic telling me he/she was given crabs I would be concerned. However, when a scientist texts me that I can have crabs I am rushing over to get them! Dr. Gabriela Bradt recently had 5 crabs molt in her lab, making me a very happy recipient of them! 

Anytime you have access to any types of soft-shell crabs you can wash them in cold water and cook them as they are, or you can spend a little time to prepare them for a more pleasing presentation and better taste. These soft-shell green crabs are no different. Plan on eating these crabs as soon as you prepared them so they will be fresh. According to Dr. Bradt these soft-shell crabs will stay soft once out of the water and refrigerated. At the conference some people mentioned that these green crabs are tough, living up to 7-12 days in the refrigerator without any food or water! Although I heard this echoed from several scientists I am not going to conduct my own longevity study on my precious soft-shell crabs! From my observation they may have meant only the hard-shell crabs as they are much stronger than the soft-shell ones. When Dr. Bradt gave me the 5 crabs, even though soft-shells, she separated each one in its own container. The stronger and bigger green crabs will eat the weaker ones. If you lack space or containers you may keep equal softness crabs together. Place 1-2 damp paper towels or fresh seaweed in each container to keep the crabs moist. 

The process of cleaning crabs is quick and simple, this is my preferred way.

keep the crabs in separate containers if possible
place damp towels in each container to keep the crab(s) moist

How to Prepare Soft-Shell Green Crab for Eating

Wash the crabs in cold water. Use scissors to trim off just enough of the face, this includes the spines between the eyes, eye stalks, antennae, and antennules. These crabs are smaller than other crabs so be gentle and try not to trim too much off. One key point to remember is what you have left is what you will get to eat! Trim off the ends (pointy parts) of the 4 pairs of the legs and the apron (the V-shaped flap) that opens up on the stomach and mouth parts. Gently lift each side of the carapace (dorsal aspect or top of the crab) and trim off the gills. Rub a little salt on the crabs, rinse them with cold water to thoroughly clean them and place them in a strainer to be used.

dorsal view: trim off the marked area with scissors
(face, pointy ends of the legs)

ventral view: trim off the marked areas with scissors
(mouth parts, apron, pointy ends of the legs)
trim off the face
trim off the pointy ends of  the legs
ventral view (belly)
open up the apron and trim at the base
trimmed apron
trim off the mouth parts
the arrows show where to lift up to remove the gills
lift each side of the carapace and trim off the gills
trimmed soft-shell crabs
trimmed soft-shell crabs

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