How to Cook a Crab

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Recipe type: Main Dish

2 live Dungeness crabs, each 1 1⁄2 to 2 lb
3 cups distilled white vinegar
1⁄2 cup kosher salt


To cook the crabs:

In a large stockpot, combine 8 qt water, the vinegar, and kosher salt and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the crabs, return the water to a boil, and cook for 13 minutes, or until the meat is opaque and the internal temperature registers 165°F. Carefully remove the crabs from the pot and let them cool until they can be handled.

Turn a crab belly side up and pull off and discard the triangular flap. Flip the crab over and, working from the rear end, pull off the back shell. Pull off and discard the spongy gills and any trace of red membrane from the body. Twist off the legs and claws from the body, then cut the body in half lengthwise and rinse the halves briefly with cool water. Using Joyce Chen scissors or a crab cracker, cut or crack the leg and claw shells open, then pick the meat from the body, legs, and claws. Repeat with the second crab. You should have about 1 lb crabmeat. You will need only half of the crabmeat for this recipe. Put it into a medium bowl. Reserve all of the crab shells (for the stock) and the remaining 1/2 lb crabmeat for making the Dungeness Crab & Cauliflower Soup. If not using within 2 days, the stock and the crabmeat can be frozen for up to 1 month.