My process of cleaning the hard-shell crabs is quite similar to preparing the soft-shell ones. The major difference is removing the entire carapace in order to to get to the yellow-orange matter. 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 the following parts with my fingers but you can use scissors with pointy tips--carapace (dorsal shell), the gills on each side of the body, the pointy ends of the legs (not necessary if you use are making stock), the V-shaped apron on the abdomen and mouth parts. Scoop out the yellow-orange innards and reserve it in a separate bowl. For me, the best way to remove the most of the 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 a little salt on the prepared crabs, rinse them 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 be used.
|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 mouth parts and discard|
|pull out the gills on each side of the body and discard|
|ventral view (belly side)--mouth parts, apron, pointy legs|
|break off the pointy walking legs and discard|
|use scissors or a knife to life up the apron, pull it off 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|
|crab roe and crab mustard--rinsed in cold water and strained|
*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 rinse with cold water several times to remove 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 as it will change their taste and texture.
*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.