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There is more than one way to cook a crab. Prepare your crab meat in a variety of ways to offer more flavor. For example, steaming a crab will bring out different flavors than if you grilled it. Crab is intimidating for a lot of people, but in reality, it is a very simple procedure to cook a crab to perfection. Once your crab is cooked, you can use it in salads, sandwiches, soups, dips, pasta dishes and just enjoy it plain with a bit of melted butter.
Buy fresh crabs from a reputable fishmonger. Live crabs should not have been in the tank for any longer than a week at most. They should be lively and smell fresh. Do not buy dead, raw crab. If you are not buying a live crab, the meat should have already been cooked when you purchase it.
A method of cooking in the steam given off by boiling water. The crab is held above the water in a colander or basket so the steam can surround the crab evenly, cooking it with an intense, moist heat. Steaming is one of the most popular ways to prepare crabs. It gives you a fresh, crab taste without adulteration by any other ingredients. Before steaming, rinse the crab off with running water. Use tongs or heat resistant gloves to place the crab for steaming. The process takes 20 to 30 minutes.
Prepare a big kettle of boiling water. You can add seasonings to the water if you like to help season the crab. Using tongs, place your crabs in the kettle and raise the water again to a boil. The shells of the crabs will turn red. It may take up to 20 minutes to fully cook the crabs after the water returns to a boil. Let them cool a little bit on a dry towel so any excess water can drain and they are cool enough to handle.
If you have frozen crab legs, let them thaw in the refrigerator and then cut the shells on the legs open with a pair of scissors. Lay out the opened legs on a greased, unheated broiler pan. Brush the crab legs with a seasoned butter mixture and let them broil for 3 to 4 minutes. Thawed crab tends to get watery if you boil it; broiling it brings out the best flavor and reserves the texture of the crab meat.
Many people enjoy eating crab fresh out of the shell, but sometimes you need the meat for another recipe. Perhaps you want to add the crab meat to a salad, a pasta dish or make crab cakes.
Remove the legs. You can crack the shells and pull out the meat in each segment with a shrimp fork. Hold the base of the crab with one hand while you use your thumb under the shell at midpoint on the back side to pull off the top shell, or carapace. Remove the tough leaf-gills by scraping them away with a spoon edge. You will see a yellow substance that is known as crab butter. This is the viscera of the crab. You can rinse this away with running water. Use a shrimp fork to help remove the pockets of meat throughout the body. The meat is now ready to enjoy dipped in butter or in any recipe you have on hand.