How to Clean a Dungeness Crab: A Step-by-Step Guide

In order to properly handle and clean your fresh Dungeness crab, whether you caught them while fishing for fun or ordered some tasty, live Dungeness crab from Fathom Seafood, you will need to follow these steps.

You have to work hard to crack and clean crab, but it’s worth it because you can taste the sweet, tender meat and make up your own tasty Dungeness crab dish.

Make sure that a Dungeness crab is handled properly before you clean it. This is important whether the crab comes straight from the ocean to your home or is shipped directly to your home by a company. Hey, that’s what Fathom Seafood does!.

If you catch Dungeness crab and bring them home, make sure they stay cool, damp, and well-oxygenated until it’s time for them to meet the Big Crab in the sky. Filling a cooler with cool saltwater and covering it with a towel is best. Make sure to stir the water every once in a while, as this aerates the crab’s environment. It is best to steam or boil your Dungeness crab within that same day.

“Live crabs should always be packed inside out, back up, when they are being moved or stored.” An upside down crab will not live as long as a right-side up crab will live. “Metal or wooden crab tongs are the safest way to handle crabs unless they are very slow from being very cold,” (Crab-o-Licious) You’ll want to look for lively crabs that respond to touch when you open up their packaging.

To Boil: Take a large pot and bring it to a boil. Add salt to the water so that it actually tastes salty. just like the ocean. You can add whatever spices you would like; a lot of people choose the brand Old Bay. Place the live Dungeness crab in the pot and let it cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until it’s fully cooked.

To Steam: Take a large pot and add only about an inch of water (with salt added). Place a steamer basket into the pot and add the live Dungeness crabs. You can pile them in. Put the lid on top of the pot and steam the crabs for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how big they are.

When the Dungeness crab is cool enough to touch after taking it out of the pot, you should crack it open and clean it out.

Dungeness crab is a delicious crustacean found along the west coast of North America Prized for its sweet, tender meat, it’s a favorite of seafood lovers. However, cleaning a whole dungeness crab can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process, from cooking to breaking down and serving this tasty crab.

Step 1: Cook the Crab

Before cleaning, the crab must be cooked This will not only make the meat safe to eat but also makes the process of removing the shell much easier To cook dungeness crab

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil You’ll want enough water to completely submerge the crabs

  • Gently drop live crabs into the boiling water and allow it to return to a boil.

  • Cook for 7-8 minutes per pound.

  • Drain cooked crabs and rinse under cool water until cool enough to handle.

Cooking time will vary based on the size and quantity of crabs. When fully cooked, the shells will turn a bright orange-red hue.

Step 2: Remove the Apron

The apron is the triangular abdominal flap on the underside of the crab.

  • Place crab belly up and pry off the apron.
  • Discard the apron as it is inedible.

Removing this first prevents leaking and makes the rest of the cleaning easier.

Step 3: Take Off the Top Shell

The body of the crab is encased in a hard upper shell called the carapace. Removing this exposes the meat.

  • Grip the edges of the main body shell and pull it off in one piece from front to back.
  • Set aside if desired for presentation.

You may need to use a bit of force to pop off the carapace.

Step 4: Scoop Out Viscera

On the front underside of the crab is the mouth, face, gills, and innards.

  • Using your fingers or a spoon, scrape out and discard the spongy gray/brown gills.
  • Scoop out any viscera or innards behind the mouth and discard.

This inedible matter needs to be fully cleaned out before eating the meat.

Step 5: Crack the Body

With the top shell removed, the body can be easily cracked open.

  • Place crab body belly down.
  • Grasp both sides of the body firmly.
  • Push down to crack in half down the middle.

Cracking it open exposes the meat sections ready for eating.

Step 6: Twist Off Legs and Claws

The legs and claws contain a good amount of tasty meat.

  • Twist each leg and claw where it attaches to the body to remove.
  • Use a crab cracker or mallet to crack open the shells.

Be sure to remove a portion of the body with each leg.

Step 7: Rinse Clean

Give the crab a final rinse under cool running water to remove any debris. Be careful not to wash away any meat.

Pat dry with paper towels before serving.

Step 8: Presentation and Serving

Dungeness crab can be served hot with melted butter or lemon wedges. For cold crab, cocktail sauce, aioli, or remoulade all pair nicely.

  • For whole crab, arrange legs on plate with cracked body in center.
  • For crab legs, stack on a platter with dipping sauce.
  • Garnish with lemon wedges, fresh parsley or dill.

The sweet, succulent meat can now be enjoyed straight from the shell!

Cleaning dungeness crab takes time but following these simple steps helps maximize the precious meat. The rich flavor and tender texture make the effort well worthwhile. Don’t let the process intimidate you. Grab some fresh dungeness crab and give it a try! Your tastebuds will thank you.

how do you clean a dungeness crab

Remove the Dungeness Crab apron.

how do you clean a dungeness crab

Find the crab’s apron, which is the triangle-shaped part of the shell near the bottom of the animal. Keep in mind that the apron of a female crab is bigger and rounder than that of a male crab, which is sharper. To remove the apron, grab the point and simply pull it off.

Remove the Dungeness Crab carapace.

The next step is to remove to the carapace, which is the hard, upper shell. Hold the body with one hand. Find the crab’s small hole in the back, which is between the body and the top of the shell. You can pull off the carapace by grabbing the shell where the hole is and pulling.

It’s okay if some liquid comes out during this step. That’s just the fat from the crab’s back, which is also known as “crab butter.” “It can be used to make soups or sauces! You can even save the shell and use it as a “bowl” for crab salad!”

Learn How to Clean a Dungeness Crab!


How to clean dungeness crabs after catching?

Remove the Dungeness Crab gills and mandibles. You will see two rows of gills–simply pull them off and throw away. The mandibles are at the front of the crab; you don’t want any pointy bits in your meal. Snap the two pointy parts to break them from the crab and throw them away as well.

What part of a Dungeness crab is edible?

Edible Portions The meat of the legs, which is easily separated from the soft shell, and body, which is accessed by cracking the shell in half lengthwise, are also consumed. Although the shell is not edible, it can be broken and used in a fish stock for chowder or soup bases.

Is it better to steam or boil Dungeness crabs?

Steaming helps to keep much-needed nutrients in the Dungeness crab itself, instead of it washing away into the water or cooking liquid. Another pro of steaming is that it is a gentle process and does not agitate or break apart the crab like another method of cooking might. It is also a fast way to cook your meal.

How do you clean a dungeness crab?

1. Place Dungeness crab on a work surface, belly side up. Pull off triangular-shaped belly flap (aka apron); drain, if needed. 2. Turn Dungeness crab over and remove shell by prying off using your thumb or fingers. 3. Remove spongy gills and small paddle at front of Dungeness crab; discard. 4.

How do you clean a spongy crab?

Discard the gills and mouth. With the crab on your work surface belly side down, carefully pull off the spongy gills and mouth on the front of the crab. Discard these. Rinse the body. After you have discarded all the unnecessary parts, hold the body under running water to remove any dark matter or debris.

How do you eat Dungeness crab?

Make it a family activity, where everyone cracks their own Dungeness crab, for a fun and fulfilling family meal that’s full of lean protein. 1. Place Dungeness crab on a work surface, belly side up. Pull off triangular-shaped belly flap (aka apron); drain, if needed. 2.

How do you clean a crab shell?

With your thumb on the bottom edge of the crab shell, remove it and discard it into a large bowl. Be mindful it will be full of crab butter and juice! On the body of the crab, remove all the gills and extra shells that don’t contain meat. Rip the crab body in half. Separating it into 2 sections.

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