How to dress a crab

Buying a whole crab from the fishmonger is often much cheaper that getting it pre-dressed. But if you’ve never tried it before, the idea of preparing a crab can be a bit daunting. With the help of Clive’s simple step-by-step guide you can now try it at home.

  1. Wipe the crab well with a damp cloth.
  2. Remove the claws by twisting them away from the body and put to one side.
  3. Pull the legs back and remove by twisting gently, place to one side.
  4. Use your thumbs to press the purse away from the body until it comes loose. Remove any gills (sometimes called dead man’s fingers) from the purse. These have a bitter taste so should be discarded. 
  5. Cut the purse in half using a large knife. Use a small pick or skewer to scrape out any dark meat. Place all the meat in a bowl. 
  6. Scrape out any white meat from the purse, being careful not to include any bits of shell. Place the white meat in a separate bowl. 
  7. Use crackers to break the two halves of the purse again, remove any remaining white meat and put in the bowl.
  8. Clean the outside of the crab shell with a damp cloth again and remove the brown stomach sack from inside. This is not edible so should be discarded. 
  9. Remove the inner shell by placing a spoon on the inside of the shell and twisting it gently. Repeat on the other end. Scrape out any dark meat and add to the bowl of meat.
  10. Gently press the legs with the handle of a knife (or similar) to crack them and use the pick to scrape out the white meat. Continue until all the meat is removed from the legs. 
  11. Place the claws on a flat surface and use the handle of a knife or crackers to break them. Remove the white meat using the pick. Make sure you remove the piece of cartilage between the claws. 
  12. Beat the dark meat lightly with a spoon until smooth then place into the shell. Flake the white meat and place on top of the dark meat in the shell. Add a sprig of dill and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Serve and enjoy!
Serve the crab with a simple lemon juice and dill dressing
Dressed crab recipe from the National Trust