Edible brown crab is native to the UK and is the nation’s favourite crustacean. Cocks (males) contain more white meat than hens (females) and are preferred by chefs. To identify them, cocks have larger claws and their tail flap is narrower and more pointed. The Minimum Conservation Reference Size (MCRS) varies around the UK coast, the smaller crabs tend to come from the east coast, and the larger ones from the West Country and Channel Islands. The pasty shaped shell houses soft and flavoursome brown meat, and the legs and claws are packed with the more delicate flavoured white meat. Brown crab is superb for crab cakes, chowders, salads and pasta.
Before cooking crab, wrap it in a wet cloth or seaweed and then cool it by putting it in a freezer or by packing crushed ice around it. Once it is in a sleep state (torpor) it can be humanely killed by physically spiking it on the underside, which severs the main nervous system. Turn the crab over and allow the fluid to drain. You can then place the crab into heavily salted boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes. Alternatively, the claws and body meat can be removed and steamed or stir-fried. The best option to buy is fresh, local pot-caught crab caught in inshore waters. This is a sustainable, selective and low impact fishing method.
Adapted from Love Seafood