How to Dissect a Crab

Do not be afraid of crabs! Once you have mastered the art of how to dissect a crab, then a world of amazing recipes from crab bisque to hot dressed crab to creamy crab linguine and beyond opens right up for you. So no need to worry if you can’t tell your dead man’s fingers from your white meat because The Seafood Shack-ers Kirsty & Fenella are here to tell you exactly what to to!

Take One Cooked Crab

  1. Twist off all the legs, small and large. Sometimes the feathery grey gills called ‘dead man’s fingers’ will come out with the large claws – these are not good to eat and will make you feel sick so make sure to discard them. Most of the time they will be in the body.
  2. Put the crab on its back so its tummy is upwards. You will see the crab’s two eyes, and below these there are two small flaps. Move these aside and push down on the slightly softer shell underneath with both your thumbs.
  3. Push hard to crack through…
  4. Then you can pull out the middle section of the body.
  5. Inside it looks like a bit of a mess, but you can eat everything EXCEPT the dead man’s fingers.
  6. Don’t worry – they’re so distinctive you can’t miss them – they look just like feathers.
  7. Pick through the rest of the meat and put it in a bowl. This is where you will find most of the brown meat.
  8. Now have a wee tidy up and start on removing the white meat from the leg and claws. Get the larger legs first and tear the claw from the leg. There will be two small pieces of cartilage – just make sure they don’t go into your crab meat bowl. Use a pick or a claw tip to get the meat from the leg.
  9. Now for the claw. Get a large, heavy spoon or a knife (choose one you’re not that fond of). Place the claw flat on a board and crack it in the middle with the blunt side of your knife or the curved side of the spoon, then turn it over and do the other side. Remove the bottom part of the shell and you should be left with half a cracked claw. Give it a rinse to remove any loose shell. You can either leave it like this or get all the meat out with a pick – just watch for the large think piece of cartilage in the middle.
  10. Always make sure you thoroughly pick through your white crab meat as you’ll often find small pieces of shell in it. There’s nothing worse than chewing down onto a hard piece of shell! You now know how to dissect a crab and need never be scared again.


Get yourself a copy of The Seafood Shack – Food & Tales from Ullapool and make something delicious!