How to Shell a Crab Easily

All you need is a fork!

Dungeness crab was on sale for $5.99/lb (still waiting for the famed $3.99/lb), which prompted me to purchase 4 pre-cooked ones. I spent a little over $30 for them. Let me tell you that I love crab meat! I think it is better than lobster, shrimp, and other sea crustaceans because of the sweetness of the meat and therefore had to splurge. Of course, by purchasing 4 dungeness crabs, I intended to pick and save some of the meat. I figured I’d post about how to actually eat a whole crab with minimal waste.

The first step is obviously to cook it. Mine came precooked so I just slightly heated it up in the microwave to speed things along. I could have steamed or gently boiled it but I had to stopper my drool by stuffing my face with crab. The second step is to detach all the legs from the body. Since this step can be messy, I suggest this be done over a bowl or pot that will also serve to collect the shells for making a crab stock. Afterwards, you remove the triangular shaped covering or “tail” as I call it, slip your fingers in between the top and bottom crevice, and pry the two pieces apart. Deliciousness awaits you.

Personally, I like eating the yellow parts that consist of essentially crab guts. While somewhat unappetizing and strange looking, the yellow stuff is definitely a strong taste but I love it (and so does Jake).

The easiest method to get out the body meat is to snap the body in half. Often, I see pictures of people cutting it with a knife but it is super easy (one less thing to wash) to just use your fingers. The trick is to push the two halves inwards first to separate them. See pictures below since the process is difficult to describe. Then you just need your fingers to pick at the chunks of meat in the Dungeness crab; blue crab, being smaller, may require those tiny forks if you have giant hands.

My final piece of wisdom is to not use a crab cracker!! All you end up doing is smashing the delicate, sweet sweet meat. The easiest and best method to extract leg/claw meat is to use a fork. Take the fork and insert it into one end and slit it up along the length of the claw. This gives you a nice long entry point to then break the shell in two pieces and even works for the large claws. Unfortunately, this method doesn’t work with lobsters since their shells are too hard but, for all other shellfish, this works marvelously.

After eating 2.5 crabs and shelling the other parts, I collected roughly 2 cups of crab meat. I also threw most of the shells and miscellaneous crab juices into a pot with some bay leaves, half an onion, and some whole peppercorns and made a stock. The culinary plans for the week are crab egg omelets and maybe a crab corn bisque. ;0

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