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Cleaning and Preparing Soft Shell Crab
Posted By Dawn On May 9, 2009 @ 4:09 pm In how-tos,seafood | 6 Comments
It’s May and soft shell crabs are back in season! This morning I went to the fish market to buy the haddock I’m cooking for Mother’s Day. I spied these little guys in the case while placing my order. My timing couldn’t have been better. The crabs just arrived fresh this morning. I knew my husband wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t buy any, so I grabbed a few to make for our lunch. I decided to have fun with it and share with you how to clean and prepare fresh soft shell crab for cooking.
Step 1: Remove the eyes.
Using sharp kitchen shears, cut back about 1/4-inch behind the eyes. They leave a bitter taste, and there’s not much fleshy goodness in there anyway.
Step 2: Remove the apron.
Lay the crab on its back to locate the apron. Depending on the sex, the apron will have a different shape. All four of the crabs I bought were male, so their apron was shaped like the “Washington Monument”. (I didn’t make this up. Look around the web and you’ll find lots of references to said monument!) A female’s apron is rounder. I wish I’d had one to photograph for you.
Male or female, just pull that apron away and snip it off.
Step 3: Remove the gills.
Turn the crab right-side-up. Gently peel back the shell from one side to expose the gills. They’re those feathery fingers just underneath. No special tools required; just tear them out with your fingers.
Here’s how it looks with the gills removed.
That’s all there is to it. Here’s how the crab will look when you’re done.
At this point you can cook it however you’d like. Fry it. Grill it. Make spider maki or a soft shell crab po’ boy. Today I fried them, and of course I’ll tell you how.
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