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How to cook fresh crab

Diana De Cicco is a food editor and writer based in New York City. She has a master's degree from New York University in Food Studies. Her passions are eating, traveling, and eating while traveling.

Summer crab recipes

Fresh crabs are ample during the summer, giving you the tasty opportunity to cook them whole instead of hiding their delicious meat in crab cakes. Imagine the succulence as you crack open those crab shells and savor the crustacean's tender juicy meat. Just be careful -- live fresh crabs may just bite you back! Here are some simple crab recipes to enjoy this summer.

Crab

What you should know about eating crabs

Before you dig in to the following crab recipes, follow these tips to get the most from your crab eating experience.

Blue crabs are in season

Maryland blue crabs are one of the most popular types of crabs available live during the summer. They are usually 4 to 6 inches long and blueish in color. Check with your local fish monger for other types of crabs and to buy the freshest picks.

Fresh or frozen crabs

If buying fresh crabs for a large dinner, buy them live, not frozen. You can buy crabs in a bushel which, depending on their size, will be between 60 and 96 crabs. That may seem like a lot of crabs, but it will feed at least 12 people. Make sure all of the crabs are a live in the bushel, if some are dead, throw them away before cooking.

Store live crabs in a cooler

You should prepare live crabs for eating as soon as you buy them. They are difficult to store and can die quickly. If you can't use crabs immediately, store them in a cooler with ice at the bottom and put the cooler in a cool place. Keep the crabs from laying directly on the ice because the ice will melt and the crabs may use up all of the water and die. Also, keep the lid cracked to allow fresh air in, just make sure the crabs can't climb out.

Tips for cooking crabs

Live crabs can pinch, so be sure to wear a pair of heavy duty gloves while preparing them for dinner.

1. Clean the crabs

Before you begin cooking crabs, bring them to room temperature. Clean each crab well, including the shell, claws, legs and the underside.

2. Remove insides

Rip the top of the shell off and remove the triangular part of the abdomen on the bottom of the crab. Then remove the guts and reproductive organs from the inside. There should only be meat remaining. The legs can stay intact.

3. Cook the crabs

There are variety of ways to prepare whole crabs. Two traditional ways are sautéing crabs in garlic and oil or cooking crabs in a large pot of tomato sauce and serving them with spaghetti. Crab soup is also a popular method or you can just simply steam the crustaceans and serve them with melted butter. Regardless of the cooking method you choose, keep the flavors simple in order to taste the freshness of the crab meat. Then just have fun digging in.

Next page… summer crab recipes

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