How To Select And Pick Crab

In our last post, Tips For Preparing Fish, we took the time to highlight a few of the most common, easy-to-employ methods for preparing fish. Said methods included preparation styles for battered fish and pan-fried fish. We also gave our readers a few pointers in reference to the selection process when it comes to choosing fish from your local supermarket. Likewise, we offered up some wisdom with regards to storage. Generally speaking, however, the rule of thumb unsurprisingly remains that you should always try to cook your fish before freezing it if you are interested in extracting the best flavor possible. As you have found your way to this seafood restaurant blog, we can only assume you fit that description!

In today’s post, we’d like to run with the preparation-tip theme. This time we’ll discuss some of the ways in which you can choose and select crab. But before we dive right in, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out a few of our most popular crab dishes right here at Mulligan’s Beach House Bar & Grill! With locations in Jensen Beach, Stuart, Lake Worth, Lauderdale by the Sea, Sebastian, Singer Island, and Vero Beach, we’ve got you covered with outstanding seafood restaurants nearby up and down the Southeast Florida coast.

  • Crab & Sausage Omelet – Lump Crab Meat, Sausage & Cheddar Cheese
  • Crab Benedict – Filled with Jumbo Lump Crab Meat
  • Calypso Crab Cake – One jumbo lump crab cake topped with Key West Hollandaise.
  • Key West Crab Cakes – Two of our Homemade lump crab cakes with Hollandaise Sauce
  • King Crab Legs – A King of a meal with 1 lb Alaskan Red King Crab Legs

As you can tell, we’ve got breakfast items, appetizers, and entrees that feature crab for you to choose from. Each offers something a bit different in terms of inspiration and note, but if we were forced to choose a favorite, we’d have to go with the King Crab Legs. But seeing as you aren’t always going to be able to come see us at Mulligan’s for your crab-fix, we thought we’d share with you some of our industry-knowledge so that you can stay in but still eat some flavorful crab in the comfort of your own home. Keep reading if you are interested in some tips as to how to clean and prepare crab!

Let’s Start With The Selection Process

There are two primary categories of crab meat – picked and whole. Sub-categories of crab meat include lump (as you may have noticed above), which is essentially picked crab, flake, meaning smaller pieces of crab meat, and claw, signifying pieces of meat found in the claw as the name suggests.  

Whole crab meat is sometimes alive, and whenever it’s possible, it’s best to select crab that is still alive for optimal freshness. This isn’t always a realistic possibility, as certain crab are only available during certain times of the year. When choosing a live crab from a market, look for those that have a salty aroma, are alert. It’s best to avoid crabs that smell fishy, look near death, and/or are opaque as opposed to translucent (specifically in regards to soft-shell crabs, we should warrant).

Beyond those general pointers, you should also take notice as to where the crabs are being kept. For example, crabs that are stored in water tanks have to use more energy to survive, and will therefore be less healthy and closer to death than otherwise. If you are in a particularly thorough mood, you can check the crab’s belly for firmness (the more firm the better), in addition to closely inspecting the crab’s claws. Find a crab with well-used claws that have their fair share of battle scars. That means your claw is likely full-grown. That means more delicious meat!

Pre-Dressing Tips

It’s a good idea to keep the following things in mind before you go buy a crab without any of the requisite kitchen tools to make this project easier, and perhaps, possible.

  • Paper towels
  • Tea towels
  • Chopping board
  • Bowls for the brown and white meat
  • A sharp and solid kitchen knife

Make sure you wipe down all the surfaces you used when you are done. Likewise, ensure that your crab is chilled before you prepare. Crab meat can spoil very quickly.

Picking The Meat

Once you’ve selected your perfect crab (or 5!), it’s time to prepare them. Let’s take a step-by-step look at our recommended crab picking technique.

  • Turn the crab so it is facing you, head on.
  • Turn it over and look at its belly
  • Wedge your knife, or your fingers, if you are in something of a savage mood, under the triangle-shaped flap. Pull that sucker back.
  • Pull out the top shell now that you’ve gained some leverage. At this point, you have a decision to make. You can either throw away the top shell and its contents (liver and other organs), or you can set it aside to consume at a later point. Some people like eating the innards, but most find it a barbaric practice. We don’t discriminate here at Mulligan’s. You do you. Whichever route you elect to go with, make sure you remove the stomach sac and hard membranes inside the shell in addition to removing the “dead man’s fingers” (spongy gills).
  • Grab a spoon, roughly the size of a teaspoon to scoop out the delightful, brown meat found. Place it into a bowl and then mash it gently with a fork.  
  • At this point, with the belly still up, slice your crab lengthwise. Or crack it with your hands if the mood strikes.
  • Snap off the legs and claws. If your crab is fresh, it should be a sinch.
  • Crack into the claws. We recommend using a nutcracker for this activity. But, if you’ve been going the savage route of using your hands the entire time, why stop now? Fair warning – it might be a bit of a challenge. Either way, don’t ignore the delicious meat inside the claws. There’s plenty of it and it is certifiably yummy.
  • Congrats, you just broke down your very first crab. You are ready to prepare crab for eating!

Come See Us At Mulligan’s Soon!

If you are looking for a Vero Beach seafood restaurant, a Lake Worth Restaurant, or a Jensen Beach fish restaurant, we’ve got you covered at Mulligan’s. We are a family-friendly, tropical themed restaurant with a staff full of welcoming, fun folks who love being part of what we are doing here at Mulligan’s! We are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner 365 days a year. We have a Mulligan’s family night every Thursday night from 5-8 pm where kids eat free! (One child per adult entree with the purchase of child beverage). Every day from 9-10 am to we have a Sunrise Happy Hour, where you can get any breakfast cocktail, all liquor, wine, and beer for ½ off! Every day, we have our regular Happy Hour from 3-6 pm where you can get all specialty cocktails, liquor, wine & beer ½ off as well. Finally, we also offer a Last Call Happy Hour with the same deal.

We also offer various private dining options and VIP Locals Card in case you are like the many people who make eating at Mulligan’s a regular event! Whether you are a local or just a guest passing through the area, we’d love to see you for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. View our menu or get in the car and come see us right now!