If you've caught live crab using crab pots, your next step is to cook them so that you can eat them. In most cases, live crab should be boiled. Whether you've caught them yourself or purchased them live, you should cook them quickly. After they have died, the crab meat will deteriorate very quickly, and may present a health risk if the crab is not cooked immediately. To cook live crab, all you need is a large pot of boiling water with a little salt. Here's how to cook live crab:
- Get the crab. In many areas, you can catch live crab yourself using crab pots or traps. You can also purchase them from the grocery store. Opt for live crab over other versions, which may be frozen, soggy, or pre-cooked.
- Boil the water. Fill your large pot with water, and bring it to a boil. Before you start boiling the water, make sure all of the crabs will fit in the pot you have chosen. Add a couple tablespoons of salt to the water; use sea salt, if available.
- Place crabs in water. As soon as the water has begun to boil well, simply throw the crabs in the pot. The most humane method is said to be dropping the crab into the pot of water headfirst by holding it by the back legs.
- Boil the crab. Now, boil the crabs for between 6 and 10 minutes. Exceptionally large crabs may require up to twelve minutes. If your are boiling live crabs, the amount of cooking time is not related to safety, it's more a question of how you prefer the crab meat. If you cook for a period of time that is too long or too short, the meat may be overdone or underdone. When cooking blue crabs, the optimum time is about six minutes. For Dungeness, it is closer to eight or ten minutes.
- Watch for doneness. Many varieties of crab, like lobsters, develop red shells once they have been cooked for an adequate period of time.
- Finish the cooking process. Once the crabs are fully cooked, dunk or rinse them in a cold water for just a couple of seconds. This will put an end to the cooking process immediately, ensuring that the crabs do not get overcooked. Do not leave them in the water, or they will cool too rapidly and the water will make them soggy.
- Serve. Serve the cooked crabs while still hot, with a side of hot melted butter. If you plan to use them later, let them cool in the shells until you can remove the meat. Refrigerate the meat until you're ready to use it. To remove the meat from the crab shell, twist the claws and legs until they separate from the body. Then push the body upwards to separate it from the shell. Scoop or scrape out the meat, discarding the intestines and other internal parts. Then return to clean the claws and legs. A nutcracker works well to crack the hard claws, allowing the white meat to be removed.
Crab is delicious and healthy, and it is surprisingly easy to cook live crab. You don't need any special equipment to enjoy this treat.