The brown crab has an oval, flattened body and is found in the North Sea and the North Atlantic. The tips of its powerful claws are dark or black. The shore crab, or green crab, is smaller and rounder. It isn’t as common but tastes good too.
Fresh crab appear in the shops in the autumn. The shell can be extremely hard, use a hammer if necessary. One trick is to put them in a plastic bag first so you don’t get bits of crab flying round the kitchen.
How to cook crab
The amount of meat in the crabs you’ll find at the fishmongers can vary quite a lot, pick your crabs with care. Turn over crabs to check their sex: A narrow abdomen means it’s a male. A wide abdomen means it’s a female. Ask your fishmonger for help if you’re not sure.
Make the dining experience easier on your guests by breaking the hard claws and legs before serving.
Crabs and crab cakes go well with sweet and sour and piquant Asian flavors. A more modern and less fatty sauce for crab can be made from avocado, crème fraîche, lime and a little chili.
If you’re cooking crab yourself: Salt “like sea water”, one and a half tablespoons of salt per liter of water. Add a splash of beer in the cooking water. Remember that the big crab will lower the temperature of the cooking water considerably.
Cracked, oven-baked crab shells make a great stock. Small crabs also work for cooking stock.
Crab au gratin. Remove the cooked flesh from the practical shell, combine it with a stuffing from white wine, stock, cream and dill and return the flesh to the shell with mature cheese on top. Put under a high temperature until the shell colors. Serve with white rice.
Pot-caught brown crab has green status.