The Chesapeake Blue Crab is a staple of summertime cuisine, especially in the Chesapeake Bay Region. Everybody has their own preferred method for picking a crab, but there is no denying that some methods are more effective than others. There are some tools of the trade that are necessary for any crab feast, and you would benefit from having everything setup and ready to go before getting started.
Eating crabs is a messy affair, so you’ll want to cover your dining area with newspaper or something that you are willing to throw away once you are through with it. You are going to need a knife that is a little bit sharper than a butter knife, but not so sharp that it is dangerous. A crab mallet and your preferred dipping accompaniment round out your supplies. Now you are ready to pick.
First you are going to want to flip the crab over on its back and pull off the top shell. The easiest way to do this is to pull back the apron, which is the spine or “tag” on the bottom of the crab that is shaped either like the Washington Monument, if you have a male, or the US Capitol Building if you have a female. Once the shell is removed you are going to want to remove anything that does not look appetizing. There are finger shaped gills that you definitely do not want to eat, and then you will find the mustard, which is identifiable by its yellow color.
Whether or not you eat this is a personal choice, but many people love it and consider it to be a delicacy. Next you will break the crab in half, and gently cut off the top layer of white shell. This will open up the areas that hold all the meat, allowing you to grab the crab by the legs and squeeze out the jumbo lump meat intact.
Once this process is complete you can attack the legs. When you pull the legs off each one will still have a little bit of meat attached to them, and the claw has a lot of good meat still inside. Now we get to pull the mallet out and do some hammering! The most effective method is to take your knife and place it on the claw, then smack it with the mallet. This will cut into the claw, and if you hit it just right, it will allow you to snap the shell off, leaving a large chunk of meat connected to the pinchers.
Now you have the basics for how to eat a crab. You will perfect this process and be able to add your own style to it the more you practice, which means eating all the crabs you can get your hands on! The Crab Shack in Crofton and Edgewater has fresh steamed crabs available year-round for you and your family and friends to enjoy. For more information or to see the menu, please visit The Crab Shack