Preparation / Directions:
Buying and Handling Live Crab Live crab should be cold and sluggish, but showing some leg movement. The shells should be clean without cracks. The crab's weight should seem heavy for its size. Store live crab in your refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Don't keep the crab in an airtight container, in water or on ice. Store live softshell crab at 50F to 55F; all other live crab at 40F
Buying and Handling Cooked Crab At the market, cooked whole crab should be stored on ice or a refrigerated case. (The crab should feel cold to the touch.) The shells should be bright red orange without cracks. The crab's weight should seem heavy for its size. Gently shake the crab; there should be no sloshing sounds of water within the shell. At home, store whole cooked crab (or cooked meat in an airtight container) in the coldest part of your refrigerator for up to 3 days. Cooked meat will keep up to 2 months in the freezer. Use your nose to check packaged crabmeat for freshness. Wait a few seconds after opening the container, then take a whiff: there should be no hint of ammonia. Pasteurized crabmeat will keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 months unopened; 3 days after opening.
Buying and Handling Frozen Crab The shell should have a smooth glaze of ice without areas of frost on the crab or the packaging. A brownish coloring of the meat, caused by oxidation, shows poor handling or crab beyond its prime. Allow frozen crab to thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Cooking Crab Boil whole crab 5 minutes per pound; steam whole crab 10 minutes per pound. The crab is done when shell changes to bright red or orange. Sauté or pan-fry soft-shell crab for about 3 minutes per side over medium-high heat. Sauté or pan fry cut up raw crab for 8 to 10 minutes over medium-high heat, until color turns red. In soups and stews, simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. King, snow and stone crab claws are already cooked; just heat before serving.
Cooked Crab Any crab you buy that isn't alive should be pre-cooked. Almost all crab are cooked while still alive often within hours after capture so they retain their just caught flavor. Some fish markets will cook crabs on-site from their own live tanks. Either way, the quality of the cooked meat is very high and you're spared the trouble of handling live critters. A crab that dies before being cooked -- even for just a few hours -- will not only wither in quality, but the meat bonds to the shell, making it nearly impossible to ext