A step-by-step tutorial.
1. The first thing you want to do is free up the carapace from the body. This is accomplished by flipping the crab onto its back and pulling off the apron (a tab that looks like a phallus on a male and a dome on a female).
2. Next, separate the shell from the body by pulling the two apart at the point where the apron was connected. Carefully inspect crevasses for shallow pools of glorious crab fat and dunk your face in accordingly.
3. Next, remove all the gills with your fingers and discard (they look like grayish, triangular flaps). Locate the mouth of the crab and break it off; discard that, too. If your crab is female and you spot a bright orange sac, consume it immediately.
4. Split the crab down the center so you have half the legs on each side. Break each half in half again, leaving two or three legs on each side, separating the back-fin section from the claw section.
5. Start peeling back the shell around the back-fin section. This is where you’ll find the lump meat. If you peel carefully enough, you’ll end up with a big chunk of it. Use the legs as a handle and extract the meat by sucking it away from the shell.
6. You’ll have to work a little harder on the claw section, but if you have large crabs you’ll find a gold mine inside. Do not use a mallet to crack the crab shell—you’ll end up shattering little pieces of shell into the meat. Instead, cleanly separate the claw at the joint and get a small, sharp knife. Make a shallow cut into the shell, gently twisting your knife to split it. Wriggle the meat out and you’ll be left with a large piece of solid crab.