Wednesday, August 8, 2018

How to Prepare Hard-Shell Green Crabs

My method of preparing hard-shell green crabs may sound time-consuming but I find that it is a better process to get the most out of my crabs. Part of my process is to clean the crabs by removing mud and sand, even though ingesting a little on occasion is not harmful to most people. The other essential part is the removal of the yellow-orange caviar (roe) and/or crab mustard, if there is any. The crab mustard is the hepatopancreas, a filtering organ found in crabs and lobsters. These innards do sound toxic to ingest and probably are but for some people they are a delicacy.

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.

green crabs
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
Helpful Hints:

*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.

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