If you've never cracked a crab yourself, we'll have you performing like a pro in no time. Crack in the privacy of your own kitchen. Or, throw a crack-it-yourself crab feast and invite your guests to participate with gusto! Just follow these easy steps.
1Twist off each leg (including the two large legs with claws) where they join the body. Break off small pincer and discard. Use your fingers and a self assured manner.
2 Break large claws in two at the dotted line, and crack with a nut cracker. Or place on a cutting board and give a light whack with a mallet or small hammer. Most purists consider this the choicest meat in the entire crab, so oohs and ahs are appropriate. You may wish to nibble as you go, dipping your crab meat in drawn butter or cocktail sauce, or squeeze on a spritz of fresh lemon juice.
3 Crack next two joints of largest legs with nutcracker or mallet, and remove juicy, succulent meat. It's perfectly acceptable - if you're carried away with the proper amount of adventure - to suck meat out of the shell, as if using a straw. Or if you feel timid, use a nut pick or cocktail fork to remove.
4 Repeat the cracking procedure on the top two joints of rest of legs. Don't miss a single piece of flavorful meat.
5 Smaller joints of legs can be snapped with fingers and meat either sucked out or removed with pick or fork. Or, show a little creative flair and use the pointed joints at the tip of crab legs as picks!
6 Grasp main body of crab with two hands and firmly snap in two. Place each section on cutting board and strike with mallet to break small "bones" and loosen meat. Or, the more flamboyant and independent crackers may simply use their fingers to separate and remove meat. A pick or cocktail fork comes in handy, too.
By this point, you've probably been eating as fast as you've been cracking. But if you're filled with will-power and are planning to store the crab for devouring later, be sure to cover meat and keep refrigerated until use. If you wish to keep longer than two or three days, pack in a moisture and vapor proof container (a glass jar is perfect). Crumple plastic wrap or lightweight foil and place in top of container to exclude all air. Cap container tightly and freeze.