How to cook crab

Here at the Stone Grill, we specialise in steak and seafood. While fish are the star of the show, shellfish are definitely the supporting cast. I’m not much of a shellfish eater so have no idea how to prepare and cook a crab. It was only when I watched our chef experimenting with some new ingredients that I saw how to do it. As crab is enjoying something of a renaissance right now, I thought I would share what I learned.

Crab has two kinds of meat, white meat and brown meat. Just like chicken, the white meat is tender and succulent while the dark meat has a more intense flavour. Males have more white meat as it is mainly found in the claws and females have more brown meat.

The crab season runs from April until November with a peak in May and June. During these times you will get the freshest crab, although fresh catch seems to be available every day at quality fishmongers.

If you’re not squeamish, it is better to buy live crab, then cover it with a dishcloth or tea towel and put it in the refrigerator. This will send it to sleep until you’re ready to cook it.

Cooking a crab

If you bought a live crab, turn it upside down with the shell on the chopping board. Lift up the little flap on its underside and push a knife firmly and quickly as far as you can through the hole. This is the most human way to dispatch a crab. Then turn it over and let the liquid drain.

  1. Boil a large pan of salted water and place the crab into the pan to cook. A 500g crab will need 4-5 minutes, a 900g one will need 7-9.
  2. Remove the crab from the water once cooked and leave to cool.
  3. Once cool, strip the meat as much as possible and use the shell and remnants to make a stock.

Once cooked, you can do a lot with crab. You can keep it light and simple with lemon juice and a bit of fresh mayonnaise or make crab cakes with a little chilli and coriander. Much depends on what you like to do with your crab. There are literally hundreds of crab recipes online.

I learned a lot from the Stone Grill chef in that hour, which has prompted me to consider writing a series of ‘how to’ posts regarding seafood. It seems not many people are comfortable or happy cooking with it, which is a shame. Something I think I might want to change.

If you prefer fresh food prepared for you, visit the Stone Grill in Blackpool. It’s the place to be for fresh fish and steaks!

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