There’s no denying that crab is one of the most satisfying and versatile kinds of seafoods… once you’ve figured out how the heck to cook it. After all, fitted with hard-to-crack shells and protective pinchers, crabs are intimidating creatures, always ready to put up a fight. Luckily, there are many ways to purchase and prepare crabs, and once you’ve nailed down your go-to method, recreating endless kinds of crab recipes will be a breeze. Follow these tips for buying, storing, cleaning, and cooking four ways, and you’ll be a crab master in no time.
My parents, native Virginians, raised my siblings and me in Tennessee. Every summer we’d pile in the van and make the 12-hour haul to our family lakehouse in Virginia and up to my grandparents’ home on the Chesapeake Bay. It was during these trips that we would all get our fill of fresh seafood for the year. Crab still tastes like endless afternoons of Scrabble on the back porch and running through prickly grass down to the dock. Now a resident of Alabama, when I find myself getting homesick I don’t turn to Tennessee. I go straight to summers on the water.
Canned crab meat is an economical alternative to fresh lump crab meat, so feel free to use it if a recipe calls for crab meat. To freshen the flavor of the canned crab meat, soak it in ice water for 10 minutes; then drain and pat it dry. Find canned crab meat on the supermarket aisle along with canned tuna and salmon. Fresh crab meat and pasteurized fresh crab meat must be refrigerated. Fresh crab meat should be used within 2 days of purchase. However, pasteurized fresh crab meat can be kept unopened for up to 30 days after the purchase date and up to four days after it has been opened.