- Place the crab/s (either alive or recently killed) in boiling, salted water and cover the pot. There should be enough water so that the crab is completely submerged, plus an additional 4 or 5 inches on top of that. Use about half a cup of salt per gallon of water. Cook for about 15 minutes; 10 to 12 minutes for smaller ones, up to 20 minutes for large ones. When cooking live crab, you can put it in the freezer for half an hour beforehand so that it moves more slowly and is easier to handle when placing in the pot. Some people also feel this is a more humane method. They say the cold puts them into a dormant state and then they're not fully conscious when they're boiled.
- Obviously, the crab will be hot. So, if you want to serve it warm, you’ll need to wear rubber gloves to clean it. Otherwise, put the crab in a bowl of ice water for several minutes and then drain before cleaning.
- To remove the back, hold the base of the crab with one hand and pull the shell away from the body with the other hand.
- Turn the crab over and pull on the triangular-shaped section and lift it away. Turn the crab again and gently scrape away the gills on either side with your thumb or a spoon. Also, throw away the intestine, which runs down the center of the back.
- Most people wash away the "crab butter" (the yellow, mushy stuff in the cavity). But, some consider these organs a delicacy and there are recipes that call for them. So, set them aside if you like.
- Twist off the legs.
- Rinse the rest of the body under cold water and break it in half.
- Crack the legs with a mallet.
- Dig out the meat with forks or picks or however you can get to it. Eating crab is a messy affair, so just dig in and enjoy.
- Crab meat is typically served with lemon wedges and melted butter. But, of course, there are many sauces and recipes you can experiment with.