Now that you’ve caught your crab . . .

Now that you’ve caught your crab . . .


In my last installment, I briefly discussed cooking crab. I’ll expand on that in this article and also share my quick, simple, best recipe for world-class crabcakes.

You’ll hear lots of opinions on the “best” way to cook live crab. Everyone thinks their way is best, as do I.

Boiling shellfish for any length of time is the “best” way to ensure yourself some bland, chewy shellfish nuggets. The longer shellfish boils, the more is lost in the way of flavor and texture. That’s why I recommend bringing your cooking pot to a boil, placing the live crab into the boiling water, bringing the pot back to a boil, then shutting off the heat source.

After 10 minutes in the near-boiling water, your crab are ready to be taken out of the pot and shocked in an ice water bath. This arrests the cooking process when the meat is perfectly done.

Some people say the “best” way to cook live crab is to clean them BEFORE cooking. I have a somewhat educated palate and I can’t tell the difference. Plus I think they’re easier to clean when they’re cooked.

The body shell pops right off with a little pressure. Inside you’ll find all the stuff you don’t want to eat. A couple quick swipes of the hand and they’re all gone. You want to be careful of the crabs mouth parts. These are two short, very sharp shell pieces under the body between the eye stalks. The crab uses these to scoop food into it’s mouth. They break right off, but if you get one under a fingernail or in the end of your finger, you’ll have trouble getting it out.

Once all the guts are removed, a quick rinse and dinner is ready!

If you want to save some of the meat for later, it’s best to remove it from the shell, bag it up and freeze it.

After freezing, the crab meat is best used in fritters or crabcakes. I have eaten at least 100 different versions of crabcakes, from Maryland to New Orleans to Guadalajara. What follows is the simplest, “best” recipe I have found. It’s easy, it’s healthy, and there’s nothing to mask the flavor of the crab. You’ll find a lot of crabcake recipes out there, but usually all the extra seasonings and flavorings are there to cover up the taste of substandard crab.


  • 1 cup lump or backfin crabmeat
  • 1 cup special crabmeat (small pieces white meat)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • Vegetable oil, for frying


If using a deep fryer, heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees F.

In a bowl combine the crabmeat, mayonnaise, and pepper. Form into either 1-ounce balls for fritters or into 3-ounce cakes. Roll in the panko to evenly coat. Deep-fry the fritters until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes or pan-fry the cakes in 1 to 2 inches of 375 degree F vegetable oil until golden brown and flip to brown on the other side about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain both on a tray lined with paper towels. Serve immediately.

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