Crab: what is it? And how do you cook it?

From cooking to grilling

You can make festive meals with fresh crabs. They look spectacular and have a refined taste. Crabs come in all shapes and sizes.

But what kind of animal is the crab really? Is it a fish? And how do you cook it? Below we tell you more about it.


Chapter 1

Wat voor dier is krab?

Crabs are part of the lobster family. Crabs normally have 10 legs, of which 8 are walking legs and 2 are claws. If the crab loses a claw, it will grow back on its own. They have eyes that are on stalks and can be folded into slots on the head.

They have a strong armor on their stomach and back. On the shell edge, the crabs have two feelers next to the eyes. This allows them to sense their environment.

Crabs usually stay small and grow to about 5 to 15 centimeters. There are also exceptions, such as the giant crab that can have a wingspan of 1.2 meters and a weight of 7 kilograms.

The carapace and legs mainly have a brown-red color, while the fingers of the pincers are almost black. The crab has a white color on the underside.

Male or female

You can tell from their abdomen whether a crab is a male or a female. A female is broad and round. Her abdomen resembles a beehive, in which she carries her eggs in the months of April, May and June.

At the end of June, beginning of July, you can find the young crabs, which are a few centimeters in size, on the beach and on the breakwaters. A female crab has a triangular plate on the head and is also slightly larger.

If the crab has a narrow, pointed, triangular abdomen in the shape of a lighthouse, then it is a male. You can also recognize the male by the two penises he has under his abdomen, one on the left and one on the right. They actually look like converted legs.

Walk sideways

Crabs do not walk forward like other animals, but sideways. This allows them to move quickly and squeeze through narrow openings. Crabs have gills on the back of their carapace that they use to breathe. Because the gills only work when they are wet, a crab has to go into the water regularly in order not to suffocate.

To survive

Crabs live on dead animals, so they are real scavengers. When they are hungry, they also want to eat live prey. They then crack their prey with their large scissors and take pieces off it with their grasping scissors and bring this to their mouths. This makes it seem as if they eat with a knife and fork.

Crabs molt regularly. After they have crawled out of their old shell, the crabs absorb a lot of water very quickly, causing them to expand considerably. The new shield is still very soft, but hardens after a while. They then silently stay under a rock for a few hours, where they hide from the enemy.

The young crabs molt almost every month and the older crabs only once a year.

Crabs can only mate when their shell is still soft, so after a molt. The males then release their sperm cells into the female. The males guard the females that are molting by forming a cage around the female with their legs.

Chapter 2

Where do crabs come from?

There are about 8,600 species of crabs spread all over the world, along the coasts of Europe as far as Norway. In Belgium and the Netherlands, 38 species are known, including the North Sea crab.

Because crabs normally live between stones, they are very difficult to catch. If you try to catch them with nets, they will stick to the stones. For this reason, crabs are caught with baskets. By using this fishing method, the benthic life is also not disturbed. The crabs are mainly shipped to China, Singapore and America.

Chapter 3

What does crab meat taste like?

The flesh is mild, fishy and has a typical sweetish taste.

Chapter 4

Which wine pairs well with it?

Crab’s refined flavor pairs best with a vibrant white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling. With a sparkling wine like Champagne, you give a special touch to a crab meal.

Chapter 5

How to cook crab?

You can buy crabs alive. However, unlike lobster, crab is not cooked alive because otherwise the claws will fall off and the meat will not taste as good.

You can stab the crab through his nerve centers with an awl or knife instead. This is located under the tail flap in the abdomen.

In addition to cooking it, crab is also delicious when it’s barbecued or grilled. Herbs that pair very well with crab are parsley, chervil, tarragon, bay leaf and horseradish.

How do you eat crabs?

Crabs are best eaten by placing them upside down in front of you and pulling all legs and claws off the body with a twisting motion. Prick the joint with a dull knife to make it easier. Sometimes a little meat comes off with the leg. You can definitely eat this piece of meat.

With a lobster fork you can pick the rest of the meat from the claws and legs. A crochet hook, skewer, fondue fork or meat mallet are also handy to use.

You can count on about 140 grams of crab meat per person. A King crab leg of 240 grams is sufficient for 2 people with a simple starter.

Cooking it

If you want to cook crabs, do this at a high temperature.

  1. Place the crabs in the refrigerator beforehand so that they are cold, preferably hypothermic.
  2. In a large soup pot that can contain at least 8 liters of water, bring as much water as possible to a boil.
  3. Now add 3 to 4 tablespoons of sea salt.
  4. Let the water boil vigorously.
  5. Grab the back of the crab with tongs and place it in the boiling water.
  6. To prevent the water from cooling down too quickly, cook the crabs one at a time.
  7. Let the crabs cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
  8. Remove the crabs from the water and immediately place them in a bowl of cold water.

Cooking it

If you want to grill crabs on the barbecue, make sure that the barbecue is hot.

  1. Break off the claws and legs of the crabs.
  2. Season the crabs with salt and pepper.
  3. Put them on the barbecue.
  4. Let them cook on the barbecue for about 10 minutes. Turn them over a few times.

Grilling in the pan

If you are grilling crabs, do so at a medium heat.

  1. Thaw the crabs in a large container of cold water and let them rest for several hours.
  2. Season the crabs with some salt and pepper.
  3. Using tongs, you can place the crabs on the grill.
  4. Place the thicker parts on the hottest part of the grill.
  5. Grill the crabs for about 3 to 5 minutes per side.
  6. Let fresh crab cook an extra minute per side. You even need a little less time for pre-cooked crabs.
  7. Let the crab shells cool for a few minutes before handling them.