You’ll need about 115g/4oz of meat per person – this is about 450g/1lb for a crab with shell intact. Serve cold cooked meat with brown bread, butter and mayonnaise. Steam to make a bisque (shellfish soup), or grill or deep-fry newly moulted crabs to eat á la meuniére.
Have one inch of water in the pot in which crabs are to be cooked. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of vinegar and salt to this. Put in crabs when water boils. Steam crabs for 25 to 30 minutes. The vinegar and steam make the crabs easy to pick. Keep clean crab shells in the refrigerator before using.
Loosen the meat from the shell by hitting the back underside of the shell.
With the shell towards you, stand the crab up and force the body away from the shell using your thumbs. Twist the tail off. Discard.
Twist off the legs and crack open to access the meat.
Pull away the gills that lie close together along the body.
Use a sharp knife to split open the body down the centre. Remove the meat.
Scrape out the edible brown curd from the shell. Use for sauces.