The crab is the generic name given to the decapods, that is, the crustaceans having ten legs. There are several species of this animal, bigger or smaller, all different from each other for the habitat where they live and for the eating habits. It is therefore possible to find this crustacean in many parts of the world, even if its origins seemingly are Chinese. Used in the recipes of first courses, where the smallest species are utilized, or in those of appetizers and second courses, the crab is a tasty crustacean formed by two large frontal claws, eight small lateral legs and a hard carapace.
How to choose the crab
If you are thinking of buying a crab then the best period will certainly be between October and November, when there is the reproductive phase and its meat will be tastier. It is important to know that this crustacean is very delicate and for this reason you should only choose live specimens, which do not have dark spots on the shell and which have above all a natural smell, not altered. A different matter, of course, is that of crab meat, which is sold already packaged and can be consumed within about 12 months. In fact, it is possible to find crab meat frozen or preserved in water and salt in tin or glass jars.
How to clean the crab
Cleaning a freshly caught or purchased crab is not a complicated operation.
What you will need to clean it is: a pot, a chopping board, a well-sharpened knife, a nutcracker, a wooden skewer and a teaspoon.
Step 1. First you will need to blanch the crab for a few minutes. Then dip it in a large pot and cook it in boiling water for about 10 minutes.
Step 2. After having lifted it and let it cool down completely, place it on the chopping board and remove the claws, side legs and tail, directly with your hands.
Step 3. With the tip of the knife, penetrate the shell of the crustacean and exert slight pressure to open it in two.
Step 4. Then remove the gills, stomach bag and lungs.
Step 5. At this point, with the help of a teaspoon, remove the white pulp. It is possible to recover also the brown one, with a softer consistency, and the red one, the coral. All three pulps can be used for different preparations, depending on your taste.
Phase 6. With the nutcracker it will be necessary to open the claws, removed at the beginning, to recover with the skewer the greater part of white pulp that the crab contains.
Tip: To avoid suffering the crab, before boiling it, transfer it to the freezer. Freezing will cause the crab to fall asleep slowly and avoid the torment of the boiling pan.
How to cook crab
Boiled, steamed or grilled, crabs can be cooked in a variety of ways, all of which are very tasty.
According to the recipe you will have to prepare it will be important to buy a crab the right size and quantity: small crabs, for example, do not have a lot of flesh, while many large ones have a little ‘difficult to cook, coarse fiber.
Cooking times also inevitably vary according to the weight of the crustacean in question:
A small crab, about 500 grams, will cook in 8-10 minutes.
A large crab, about 1 kilo, will cook in 15-20 minutes.
In any case, when the crab has been cooked, you will also notice that it has been cooked according to the bright orange colour of its shell.
Fill a large pot with water and boil it over high heat, with a lid. Insert the crab to be cooked and adjust the cooking according to its size using a much lower flame. Once cooked, use a pincer to lift the crab and let it drain in a sieve.
Tip: You may choose to cook the crab in vegetable broth if you want to give it more flavour.
Prepare a pot that can contain the basket for steaming. Add the water inside, place the basket and cover with a lid. When the water starts to boil, place the crab on the basket, with the help of a pliers, with the back facing upwards. Leave to cook with the lid and lift, when cooked, with the pliers. Drain the boiling water keeping the crab in a sieve.
While you are heating the grill, prepare a marinade of extra virgin olive oil, salt and garlic. Break the crab shell slightly to allow the crab to penetrate deeper when it is spread on the crab. Then transfer the crustacean to the grill, using the pliers, and turn it halfway through cooking.
Tagliatelle with Crabmeat
Prepare the sauce by starting to brown, in a non-stick pan, a clove of garlic in oil. Then add the crab meat, let it flavour for a couple of minutes and add the white wine. When it has evaporated, add salt and pepper and the cherry tomatoes. After stirring carefully, add the cream, which should also be mixed. The tagliatelle, cooked al dente, should be drained and pan-fried with crab meat before serving with a sprinkling of pepper.
How to preserve the crab
Crab has a particularly delicate meat and for this reason it should be used in the kitchen as soon as possible. If you want to keep it longer, instead, blanch it in water for about 10 minutes and recover its pulp, which should be stored in food bags, for a maximum of 3 months, in the freezer.