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How to Prepare a Crab - Dressed Crab


Cornish Food - Food From Cornwall - Cornish Recipes
Photo © Elaine Lemm
How to prepare a crab is relatively simple and quick to do. You can ask a fishmonger for a dressed crab but it is cheaper to do it yourself.

The hefty crab I bought - right in the picture - had already been cooked by the fishmonger and if you are a little squeamish, this probably the best way to buy it. Preparing the crab (dressing) after cooking is very easy.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 10 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Place the crab on its back onto a large chopping board and snap off the tail flap, legs and claws. With a fresh crab this should be very easy.
  2. Carefully push a chef's knife or large knife between the shell and the body of the crab, twist and the shell should open.
  3. Inside you will see the 'dead man's fingers' (off-white spongy gills) which must be removed. Then remove the stomach sac and hard membranes inside the shell.
  4. Using a teaspoon scoop out the brown meat, place in a small bowl and mash gently with a fork.
  5. Remove any white meat, you will need to root around in the nooks and crannies to find it all. Keep to one side.
  6. Crack each of the legs and claws and pick out all the meat. Once removed check through the meat to make sure there are no splinters of shell.
  7. Return the brown meat to the centre if the shell and the white meat to each side. Serve with mayonnaise, brown bread, a wedge of lemon and a little finely chopped parsley if liked.


  1. Keep a good supply of kitchen paper at hand for mopping up any crab juices.
  2. Make sure any knives used are strong and sharp.
  3. Clean down all surfaces thoroughly when finished.
  4. Prepared crab should be kept chilled, crab meat spoils very easily and quickly.

What You Need

  • Large, fresh, cooked crab.
  • Tea towels and paper towels.
  • A chopping board.
  • Sharp, strong kitchen knife.
  • Crab crackers or a lightweight toffee hammer.
  • Bowls for the brown and white meat.

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