Crab Cooking Basics
  |  First Published: February 2003

IN THIS month’s column I’ll explain a good way to cook crabs, both muddies and sandies. I believe that this method is the best way to cook live crabs, and it ensures that the crab meat has an excellent flavour and texture.


• Select a pot large enough to hold a few crabs. Add two tablespoons of common salt and one tablespoon of sugar per four litres of water in the pot. The sugar will enhance the delicious flavour of the crab flesh.

• Place your live crabs in the freezer for a few minutes. The cold will anaesthetise the crabs, reducing the likelihood of thrown claws when they hit the hot water. Anaesthetising your crabs is a humane way to despatch them.

• When the water in the pot has reached a good solid boil, carefully add the crabs to the pot. Be careful not to crowd in too many crabs at once; it’s better to cook a few batches than to overfill the pot.

• Cook your crabs whole with their innards intact to prevent the flesh from becoming exposed and watery. I’ve never had a problem with the guts contaminating the flesh. An intact shell acts like a steamer and the cooked flesh is pure juicy, tender crab flavour.

• Allow the water to come back to the boil before you commence the cooking time. This is very important. Cook your muddies for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the muddie. For sand crabs (or blue swimmers), allow five to seven minutes.

• While the crabs are cooking, fill a sink or Nally tub with cold water and add a generous amount of ice. When the crabs have finished cooking, remove the them from the pot and put them directly into the iced water. This prevents the crab from overcooking.

• Once the crabs have cooled it’s time to clean them. First, break off the tail flap. Using your thumbs, carefully ease the body away from the shell. Remove and discard the feathery gills attached to either side of the body. Also detach and discard the spongy stomach sac behind the mouth. Quickly rinse the crab and shake it gently to remove any excess water.

Bon appetit!

1) Leaving the crab whole while cooking prevents the flesh from becoming over-exposed and watery.

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