How to Prepare Crab: Cooking Methods and Tips – Seaco Online
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How to Prepare Crab: Cooking Methods and Tips

Preparing crab can seem intimidating, but with the right knowledge and tools, it can be a fun and delicious experience. Whether you're a seasoned seafood lover or a newbie in the kitchen, learning how to prepare crab can be a valuable skill to have. In this article, we'll guide you through the process of selecting, preparing, and cooking crab, so you can enjoy this tasty crustacean in the comfort of your own home.

A crab is being cleaned and cracked open. The meat is being removed and prepared for cooking

Selecting and Preparing Your Crab Before you start cooking, it's important to choose the right type of crab. You can purchase live or cooked crab from your local fishmonger or supermarket.

If you're buying live crab, make sure to choose ones that are active and have all their legs intact. Once you've selected your crab, you'll need to prepare it for cooking. This involves cleaning and removing the shell, which can be a bit messy, but we'll show you how to do it step-by-step.

Selecting and Preparing Your Crab

A chef selects a live crab from a tank, places it on a cutting board, and prepares to clean and cook it

Preparing crab can be a daunting task, but with the right knowledge, you can easily select, handle, and clean your crab like a pro. Here's what you need to know:

Choosing the Right Crab

When selecting your crab, it's important to look for one that is fresh and alive. Live crabs will be more active and lively, and their shells will be harder and heavier. Dungeness crab, mud crab, blue swimmer crab, and brown crab are all great choices, depending on your location and availability.

Humane Handling and Cleaning

To handle your crab humanely, it's important to avoid injuring it. Use thick gloves and handle the crab with care. To clean the crab, remove the gills, apron, and mandibles. You can also use a spike to humanely kill the crab before cleaning it.

Storing and Freezing

If you're not planning to cook your crab immediately, it's important to store it properly. Live crabs should be stored in a cool, moist environment until you're ready to cook them. Frozen crab legs should be thawed in the fridge overnight before cooking. If you have leftover cooked crab, you can store it in the fridge for up to 2 days or freeze it for up to 3 months.

Cooking and Serving

A crab being cracked open and cleaned, then cooked and served on a platter with lemon wedges and melted butter

Boiling and Steaming

Boiling and steaming are two of the most popular methods for cooking crab. Boiling is a quick and easy method, while steaming is a bit more time-consuming but yields a more flavourful and tender crab.

To boil crab, fill a large pot with salted water and bring it to a boil. Add the crab pieces and let them cook for 12-15 minutes, depending on the size of the crab. Once the crab is cooked, remove it from the pot and let it cool before serving.

To steam crab, place a steamer basket in a pot filled with a few inches of salted water. Bring the water to a boil and add the crab pieces to the basket. Cover the pot and steam the crab for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the crab. Once the crab is cooked, remove it from the basket and let it cool before serving.

Seasoning and Recipes

Crab meat is delicious on its own, but it can also be seasoned with a variety of spices and herbs. Old Bay seasoning, garlic, and ginger are popular choices for seasoning crab. You can also use a seafood boil or make your own spice blend to add flavour to your cooked crab.

If you're looking for a recipe to try, Singapore chilli crab is an iconic crab dish that is sure to impress. The dish features crab cooked in a spicy tomato-based sauce and is typically served with steamed rice.

Serving Suggestions

There are many ways to serve cooked crab. Crab legs and claws are popular choices for serving as a main dish, while crab cakes and crab salad are great options for appetizers or light meals. Crab can also be added to soups or used as a topping for pizza or pasta.

When serving crab, a dipping sauce can add extra flavour and moisture. A simple mixture of salted butter and lemon juice is a classic choice, but you can also experiment with other flavours like garlic and herbs.

Frequently Asked Questions

A crab being cleaned and prepped for cooking, with utensils and ingredients nearby

What's the best way to clean a crab before cooking it?

Cleaning a crab before cooking is essential to remove any dirt or debris that may be on the shell. First, rinse the crab under cold running water to remove any loose dirt or sand. Then, use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub the shell thoroughly. You can also use a knife to remove any barnacles or other debris that may be stuck to the shell. Once you've cleaned the shell, remove the gills and any other internal organs before cooking.

Can you give me some tips for cooking crabs for the first time?

If you're cooking crabs for the first time, it's important to start with fresh, high-quality crabs. Boiling is a popular method for cooking crabs, but you can also steam, grill, or bake them. To boil crabs, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the crabs. Boil for 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the crabs. Once they're cooked, remove them from the water and let them cool before cleaning and removing the meat.

How long should I boil a crab for, and do I need to boil it before cooking in other ways?

Boiling is a popular method for cooking crabs, and the cooking time will depend on the size of the crabs. As a general rule, you should boil crabs for 10-20 minutes. However, if you're cooking smaller crabs, you may only need to boil them for 5-10 minutes. Boiling is not necessary before cooking crabs in other ways, such as grilling, baking, or steaming.

What are some good methods for preparing whole crab?

Whole crabs can be prepared in a variety of ways, including boiling, steaming, grilling, and baking. Boiling is a popular method for preparing whole crabs, but you can also steam them for a more delicate flavour. Grilling or baking is a good option if you want to add a smoky flavour to your crab.

How should I go about preparing crab legs?

Crab legs are a popular and delicious seafood option, and there are many ways to prepare them. Steaming or boiling are the most common methods for cooking crab legs. To steam crab legs, place them in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water and steam for 4-5 minutes. To boil crab legs, place them in a pot of boiling water and boil for 5-7 minutes.

What's the proper technique for preparing crab sticks?

Crab sticks are a popular seafood snack that can be enjoyed on their own or added to salads or sandwiches. To prepare crab sticks, simply remove them from the packaging and rinse them under cold water. They can be eaten cold or heated in the microwave or oven.