How to Pick a Crab

Get crackin'.

All illustrations by Claire McCracken.

How to eat a crab

1. Flip the crab over and insert a thin crab knife—or your fingers—under the tab in the middle of the abdomen.

How to eat a crab

2. Carefully pry up the tab—the aim is to loosen the shell, not break the “lever.” Flip the crab over and pop off its top shell.

How to eat a crab

3. With your knife, scrape off the white, feathery gills. No true waterman would remove the yellowish, sweet “mustard.”

How to eat a crab

4. Crack the crab in half and pick out the meat. Tear away the back area around the legs for a delicious cluster of meat.

How to eat a crab

5. Twist off the claws and snap off the pinchers. Using a mallet, gently whack each piece, breaking open the shell.

How to eat a crab

6. Don’t waste the little legs. Twist them off, snap them in half, and gently suck out the sweet meat.

This article appears in our July 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

Don’t Miss Another New Restaurant—Get Our Food Newsletter

The latest in Washington’s food and drink scene.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.