Our Florida hard shell blue crabs are served Maryland or Chesapeake Bay style. This means they are steamed until they are bright red with a wonderful blend of spices which include celery, salt, pepper, dry mustard, pimiento, cloves, laurel leaves, mace, cardamom, ginger, cassia, and paprika sprinkled over each layer of crab.
When you order hard shelled blue crabs, it means you get the whole, steamed crab, which can be a potentially dangerous food item that must be approached with skill and care. There is a science to eating them. The necessary tools are a pair of hands and a wooden mallet. Simply follow the steps below.
1. With the crab upside down, grasp the legs on side firmly with one hand, and with the other hand lift the flap (apron), pull back and down to remove the top shell.
2. Turn the crab right side up, remove the gills and wash out the intestines and spongy material.
3. With a twisting motion, pull the legs loose from the body. Remove any meat, which adheres to the legs. Break off the claws.
4. Slice off the top of the inner skeleton and remove all exposed meat on this side.
5. At the back of the crab on each side lies a large lump of meat. With a very careful U-shaped motion of the knife, remove this back fin lump.
6. Remove the white flake meat from the other pockets with the point of the knife.
7. Crack the claw shell and remove the shell along with the moveable pincer. This will expose the claw meat and, if meat is left attached to the remaining pincer, will make a delicious "crab finger".
Hint: Both the yellow fat found inside blue crabs and the orange eggs found inside females are delicious and should not be ignored. Try it, you'll like it! Scoop the fat out with your fingers, or be more sophisticated and use a knife to spread it on a cracker.