KINGHAT DRESSING CRAB
There are many varieties of crabs. The most commonly eaten crab in the UK is the edible or the brown crab. It has a brownish red shell, grows to a width of about 20cm/8 inches, and available starts from April to September. Although you can buy crab through the year, they are at their best in spring when the meet is sweet and flavourful.
Crabs were not sold widely during the 18th century. Their meat was used as bait for catching lobsters. And were eaten by fishermen, who simply boiled them. It was until the 20th century crabs were widely sold.
Few tips you need to know when buying a crab, they should feel heavy for their size when handled. It indicates, it is juicy and meaty, rather than one that is nearly all shell. If they are live as not parboiled, like the one you buy from your fishmonger. Make sure that when you buy live crab, they are not soft. They change shell as they grow, during that time they are not worth taking, as the flesh when cooked turns to liquid and less meat. So pic older looking ones.
To test. Gently press the underside. If flexes, it is too soft, it means less meat. Look for ones that smell fresh and active. Best go for the female crab when possible. The female crab are more meatier and different flavour, they have more brown meat than the male crab. It may even contain crab roe (eggs), a prised delicacy.
To distinguish the genders. The edible or the brown crab have larger claws. Also by picking up the crab from the rear and gently turn over. Look at the underside of the crabs flap, If a male crab, you will notice a triangular shape on the rear section of the bottom of his underside. A female crab has a broad, round marking in the same area that does not have such a triangular appearance. Live crabs should be cooked as soon as possible on the day of purchase, although they can stay alive for 3 to 4 days if they are left in the fridge covers with damp cloth. Cooked fresh crabs and crab meat will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator and also can be frozen.
You can get a parboiled crab from your local fishmonger. If not I’ll explain how to prepare one.
Preparing the crab
Place the crab in boiling water. Keep the rubber band on the claws. Lower the crab upside down head first and boil for 15-20 min or more depend on it size add 5min if over 2lb until red in colour. Remove from pot and cool in iced water. Now that you have your crab ready all you need is the proper tools.
A chopping board
A sharp small knife
A lobster pick or (skewer)
Two bowls (one for the white meat and one for the brown meat)
There are two types of meat in a crab. The delicately flavoured white meat in the tail, claws and legs, and the stronger flavoured brown meat found in the body shell.
Put the crab on to its back on the chopping board, softer body section and face upwards.
Twist of the claws and legs, put them one side.
To remove the centre part, hold the crab with the head pointing upwards and knock the bottom edge on a chopping board. Lay the crab dark side down with the head pointing forwards and use the thumbs to push the centre up and out of the shell.
Discard the small stomach sac situated just behind the crab’s mouth.
Pull away the soft gills (dead man’s fingers) which are attached along the edges of the centre part and discard. These are readily identifiable and will come away easily
Cut the centre part into four and with a pick or skewer remove the white meat flesh and place in a bowl.
If you have a female crab and you see bright orange stuff inside. Do not discard. That is the roe, or eggs, also called “coral” they are tasty. Scoop out with a spoon and place in the other bowl.
Then scoop out the brown meat from inside the shell not forgetting the crevices where the claws and legs join the body and place in the same bowl as the roe.
Keep the shell for later use.
To remove the meat from the claws. There are three places to concentrate on. The main claw shell, the knuckle and the smaller piece that attached to the body.
Snap the claw from the knuckle and use a nutcracker to snap through the joint and separate the knuckle from the small piece.
Crack the claws with a nutcracker and remove the white meat. Place in the appropriate bowl. Then poke out the meat from the other joints and place in the same bowl
Crack the legs and with the lobster pick remove the white meat. Place with the others.
Using the shell to serve the crab meat. Press down and break the jagged, overlapping rim from all round the edge of the shell.
Then wash and dry it well.
Chop or shred the white meat then Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and little of lemon juice.
Add breadcrumbs to the brown meat to hold it together if its bit watery, it also reduce the strong meat taste, optional if you prefer.
Spoon the brown meat on the sides of the shell and place the white meat in the centre.
Finally decorate the crab with chopped parsley. Now it’s ready to eat. Serve with lemon wedges and bread.