Step 1: Hold
the crabs by the body and break off his claws and legs. Crack the crabs
claws with a small wooden mallet. It's also possible to place your
knife near the center of the claw and tap on top of it with your
mallet, some Marylanders just use their hands to hit the knife but
be careful if you are trying this with a paring knife. Then break
open the claw with your hands after getting a good crack on the
claw. You should be able to pull the crabs claw meat out easily at this
point. If not, work on where you are cracking the claws. Move your
knife closer to the edges or joints and once you start getting the crabs
meat out in large pieces, remember that spot. You can dig the meat
from the claws if some gets stuck, just use your knife or small
fork. Then try your condiments, remember to have some drinks at
hand. Old Bay seasoning on crabs is known to make Marylanders very thirsty.
When you start working with the crabs body, flip it upside
down and pry off the apron by starting with the pointed end. Be careful
that you don't prick your fingers, crab shells are very pointy and
sharp and can cut or prick your hands.
Step 3: Now
use both hands and stick your thumbs between the top and bottom
shells of the crab where the apron was previously covering. Separate
the top part from the bottom part. Remember that you are working
with the whole crab and that you will need to get around some of
the stuff you wouldn't if you just bought a can of crab meat at the seafood market.
Step 4: You
will want to scrape out the stuff that looks yellow and off-white.
Scrape down to the white or clear colored shell is exposed, this
is where the majority of crabs meat is located. This means the
yellow gunk (mustard), spongy lungs, deadman's fingers, etc. Some
tidy pickers use the top part of the shell to hold all of the unwanted
insides. This is a hard step if you are not use to picking crabs
but the rewards afterwards are delicious.
Step 5: Next, to expose the meat
inside the now cleaned crab, break it in half or use a knife to get
a clean cut down the middle. You should be cutting from the front
to back or at least in that direction. You do not want to cut the
crab from left to right at this point. From here you can either pick
out the meat with a fork or knife or you can quarter your pieces again
with your knife. To quarter your halves, hold the half on end or on
its left or right side of the crab. Then use your knife and cut the
piece into two more pieces. This cut would be in the left to right
direction if the crab was flat on the table with the knife in a horizontal
Step 6: "Pick"
the crab. Dig the meat out of the little membrane tubes with
a little fork or your fingers. Make sure you get it all because
you've worked hard to get this far and you should get some meat out
of the deal! If it looks like nothing's there, look again -
this is the sweetest part of the crab and if you were to buy it in
a store it would cost you a fortune.