Lafayette, This is NOT the Way I Was Taught to Pick Crabs
I come from a long line of Cajuns. My parents, grandparents, great-grandparents - people all the way back to the originals from the Canary Islands et al. And if you have any Cajun in you, chances are you've sat down to a table heaped up high with boiled crabs.
I don't recall at what age I was when mom finally gave me the "sink or swim" treatment when it came to eating boiled crabs but it was probably around 9 or 10. It was the "if you want to eat them, you've got to learn to "pick" (clean) them yourself" speech that had me pop a babin for the first few minutes, then had me pick up a butter knife and get to work.
How do we learn to do most things we do? We watch those around us. I've watched my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and brothers and sisters and parents clean crabs my whole life, so the way I do it now is the way I learned way back when.
The way I was taught was this: claws, shell, legs, body.
REMOVE THE CLAWS
My process: break off the claws, crack them open and use a butter knife to clean out the deliciousness that is fresh crab meat.
REMOVE THE TOP SHELL
Turn the crab on its top shell, pull open the trap door, then slide your butter knife along the inside of the top shell all the way to the mouth while pulling up on the back legs. This should separate the top shell from the body of the crab.
REMOVE THE GREMISE
Remove the lungs and any worm-looking stuff from the cavity of the body. (I don't know what that worm-looking stuff is, but I am not brave enough to try it.)
BREAK THE CRAB IN HALF
Break the body of the crab in half right up the middle so you have the left side of the crab separate from the right side.
REMOVE EACH LEG
If you twist and pull on each leg individually just so, you will probably get a big chunk of meat from each leg. Don't remove the flipper leg just yet.
REMOVE THE SHELL SUPPORTING THE FLIPPER LEG
If you remove the portion of the shell on the underside of the crab that supports the flipper leg by sliding your knife between the shell and the lump meat. Press your thumb against the shell, with the knife on the other side of the shell, and pull away from the crab. Then twist the flipper leg as you push it into the crab, and you should see the lump crab meat pop right out!
CLEAN OUT EACH LEG CAVITY
Once you've gotten that big hunk of meat from the flipper legs, use the knife inside each leg cavity from the opposite side of the leg hole to scrape out any little pieces of meat that are left in there.
CLEAN THE REST OF THE BODY
As you pick apart the remainder of the crab, you'll find little compartments of meat that you can squeeze out with your fingers.
BREAK APART THE LEGS
The longest part of the legs have meat in them! Just break that part in half, squeeze toward the break, and you'll find even more meat. (NOTHING went to waste in our home!)
So, there you go: my method of cleaning in a nutshell (or crab shell). Again, I've been cleaning crabs this way since I was 10 years old or so, it was the only way I knew.
HEADS UP: INCOMING!
And then what happens? This video of someone cleaning a crab hits the interwebz, and it blew my mind.
Reactions to this from people in Acadiana were similar to mine: MIND. BLOWN!!
Game changer? I AGREE!! Amanda isn't the only one who was blown away by the video.
OMG is right! Gwen is like me: she never saw this method prior to seeing it in the video.
Finally, someone who knows this method!
Seriously, should there be a course taught on how to pick crabs? I mean, if I knew of a more thorough, quicker way than "my way", I think I'd be interested. (Well, I guess I am interested, I just spent the past couple of hours writing about it, right??)
I am hoping that I am successful at this new method - I guess I'll have to go crabbing soon to find out!
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