This is a tutorial explaining how to clean and cut a whole live crab, including the humane way to dispatch it. Tutorial videos with detailed step photos and diagrams are in the post above. The directions written below are concise and abbreviated, so read the post first.And what to make with the crab once you've prepared it? Try this Singapore Chilli Crab!!Tip: For best results, keep the crab alive for as long as you can before cooking it. This will yield the most succulent, flavourful crab of your life!
1 kg+ / 2lb+whole mud crab or other crab(s), preferably live (Note 1)
Dispatch the crab (Note 2):
Freeze 1 hour: Place the crab in the freezer for 1 hour or until it stops moving, but don't let the crab freeze. It may take slightly longer for larger crabs. Ensure eyes and limbs aren't moving, no active bubbling around the mouth and legs hang limp.
Once the crab is asleep, prepare it straight away. (Note 3)
Cleaning and cutting crab:
Details in post: See diagrams in post for crab body parts referred to in this section.
Cut off leg tips: Cut off the sharp tips of each of the legs (not claw).
Remove belly flap: Twist off the belly flap and discard.
Remove top shell (carapace): Working from the back of the crab, put your thumb between the body and the top shell (carapace) and pull it off. If you have trouble here, run a small knife down each side of the shell first.
Reserve tomalley: Scrape out and save the tomalley (yellow and green "crab mustard", Note 4) from top shell and body.
Discard mandibles and gills: Remove mandibles and gills, discard.
Remove claws: Seperate arms from body using a cleaver.
Crack claw shell: Give it a whack with the back of a knife to create some cracks in the shell, but try not to break the shell completely (so the claw still holds together). This helps with even cooking makes it easier to eat. If claws are really large, cut claws from arms at the joint.
Cut body up: Cut crab body in half down the middle. Then cut each piece into 2 (or 3 if large).
Refrigerate: Place crab pieces in a large bowl and refrigerate until use. Use within 24 hours.
Clean tomalley: Scrape all the crab juices from the cutting board into the bowl with the tomalley. Pick out the grey or white membranes and gently scrape off the tomalley (the yellow/green substance) as best you can back into the bowl. Discard all the grey membranes. Keep the crab juices and tomalley for use in cooking - this packs a ton of crab flavour!
1. Crab types - I'm using mud crab here, this crab breakdown process will work for any large crab that needs to be cut into smaller pieces for cooking and eating. Examples:Australia - Mud crab, blue swimmer crab, spanner crab US - Dungeness crab, rock crab, stone crab (similar shape to mud crab) UK - Brown crab (aka edible crab), spider crab2. Dispatching crab - Crabs should be killed humanely for consumption. Freezing is an easy method of putting the crab in a coma-like state, so it feels no sensation and ceases to move, for butchering. See in post for more details.3. Cut straight away after removing from the freezer, while the crab is in this physically depressed state. It is still alive but asleep, unable to feel any sensation or move. Live crab freshly cooked = optimum eating experience!4. Tomalley - This is the crab liver and pancreas, also referred to as "crab mustard" or "crab fat". This is packed full of crab flavour and should be reserved for use in cooking.