The brown edible crab is native to the UK. Cock crabs (males) contain more white meat than the female hens and are generally preferred by chefs. Cocks can be identified by their larger claws, with a narrower and more pointed tail flap. They range in size from 1 to 2kg, with a yield of around 35% yield, and more white meat than brown.
Other crabs which you may be able to find include Alaskan king (paralithodes carntschatica) various species of spider crab, snow crab (family chionoecetes) and blue crab (callinectes sapidus), all of which have great tasting meat. Also sometimes available is the blue swimming crab (portunus pelagicus) which can be imported frozen, although mainly available as 454g tubs of succulent meat, which is pasteurised and chilled, giving it a six month shelf life. This is superb for crab cakes, chowders, salads and pasta.
Before cooking live crabs, the RSPCA recommend you first place them in a freezer for two hours, which renders them unconscious. Prior to cooking, insert a pointed rod (such as a kebab skewer) just above the mouth and push to the back of the shell. You can then plunge them into heavily salted (40g per litre) boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes for 500g, adding 2 minutes per additional 100g. Then remove and allow to cool. Alternatively the claws and body meat can be removed and steamed or stir-fried.
Here are some of the latest recipes for this particular species of fish.
To discover even more tasty meals, be sure to check out our full recipes section for a range of starters, snacks, main meals and sides.