Crab recipes to get your claws into

Date:09-07-2013 07:58:04 read:2

Crab recipes to get your claws into

Satisfyingly rich and gloriously messy, crab is something the whole family can get their claws into.

Thai crab and grapefruit salad  Photo: YUKI SUGIURA
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There's pinky-brown shrapnel scattered across the kitchen table, beautiful black-tipped claws, now scraped clean, peeking out from under paper napkins, and the place smells like a fishmonger's. It's a mess, but everyone – including my children (normally fussy eaters) – is happy. Why don't I cook crab more often? It's never the hassle I imagine it will be, and it's fun because you get your hands dirty. Makes you feel you're at the seaside too.

For the recipes below you can buy crab meat from the supermarket or your fishmonger, or a whole cooked crab and pull the meat out yourself. But here's how to do it from scratch. Get two medium-sized live crabs (enough for four people). To kill the crabs humanely, have a look at how the redoubtable Mitch Tonks does it in a video on his website.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add 1 tbsp of salt. Put the crabs in and cook for 15 minutes, then lift them out. When they are cool, put them on their backs on a chopping-board and pull off the legs and claws. Remove the triangular or wedge-shaped tail flap and ease the top and bottom of the shell apart (you might need to insert a knife and twist it to help you). Take out the stomach sac (you'll find it behind the eyes) and the translucent greyish-coloured pointed gills (the 'deadman's fingers'). They look really unsightly so it isn't hard to spot them.

Scoop the brown meat out of the upper shell and put it into a bowl. Using a heavy knife, cut the body into three – you might
need to whack the back of the knife with something heavy, such as a rolling-pin. Carefully remove all the white meat (you will need a proper crab pick or skewer to get everything out of the internal tunnels). To get it all out you'll need volunteers. Check the white meat for shards of shell by rubbing through it with your fingertips. Give the claws one blow each to crack them. This is the best bit of preparing a crab – the gorgeous claw meat can then just be pulled out. Now it's all ready to use.

But sometimes I like to bring whole crabs to the table (covered with a washable cloth or paper) with a bowl of mayo and let everyone get on with it. However you like to serve it, crab's worth it. Not many things are as saltwater-fresh and satisfyingly rich.

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