How to Pick a Crab Slideshow

Hammer & Claws’ Joshua Morgan’s step-by-step guide on getting the most from a blue crab
Jane Bruce

In a double-boiler, steamer, or jerry-rigged contraption, boil some water and toss in the crabs (make sure that they’re all alive), but double-check that however you have it rigged up, the crabs are only exposed to steam, not water. "Hot water will break down the shell, and it’ll add additional moisture and make the crab soggy," Morgan said. Once the crabs are in, apply a very liberal amount of Old Bay, cover, and let them go for about 12 to 15 minutes, depending on their size. When they’re bright red, they’re done. 

1) Steam

Jane Bruce

In a double-boiler, steamer, or jerry-rigged contraption, boil some water and toss in the crabs (make sure that they’re all alive), but double-check that however you have it rigged up, the crabs are only exposed to steam, not water. "Hot water will break down the shell, and it’ll add additional moisture and make the crab soggy," Morgan said. Once the crabs are in, apply a very liberal amount of Old Bay, cover, and let them go for about 12 to 15 minutes, depending on their size. When they’re bright red, they’re done. 

2) Dump

Jane Bruce

Empty the whole pot (minus the water) onto a table that’s been lined with newspaper. Trust us, this will make cleanup much easier. 

3) Old Bay

Jane Bruce

Add another liberal dose of Old Bay to the top of the crabs, and make a couple piles out of it for easy dipping. 

4) Legs

Jane Bruce

Pop off the small legs, suck the little nubs of meat off the ends of them if you like, and discard. Pull the claws off as well, and set those on the side for now.

5) Crack It Open

Jane Bruce

Here’s where you might need to face your fear. Grab a hold of the crab from the rear, with your two thumbs on the shell and body, and crack it open like a book, separating the top shell, which you can discard (for die-hards, there are some juices in there you can scoop out).

6) Strip It

Jane Bruce

Looking at the crab, you’ll be able to tell right away what’s edible and what’s not. The feathery things on the side are the gills, which you should strip off. Anything that’s not meat can go, and there won’t be too much of it exposed right now. 

7) Crack It Open Again

Jane Bruce

What you’re left with should be a little white bottom shell, with pockets on either side filled with meat. Hold it firmly with both hands and crack that in half down the middle.

8) Get Pickin’!

Jane Bruce

Meat from the big pockets is the best part of the crab, the fabled jumbo lump. You’ve just got to get in there and extract as much meat from the shell as you can. You can eat it as you go or pile it up on the side, but make sure that you give it a drag through the Old Bay before you eat it. 

9) The Claws

Jane Bruce

Don’t forget about the claws! There’s some good meat in there, and it’s also a great way for those who are too squeamish to crack the body open to still get a little bit of enjoyment out of it. You can bang the claw with a mallet to get at the meat, but Morgan advises placing a knife high up on the claw, near the pincer, then hitting that with the mallet, in order to make a clean break. Then carefully pull the claw meat out, and scrape the meat off with your teeth. 

10) Glory

Jane Bruce

Congratulations, you’ve just picked a blue crab! And the good part is, you’ll get even better with practice, and will be an expert in no time. Happy pickin'!