Brown Crab, Beesands

10 Steps to Prepare a Brown Crab

What equipment do I need?

  • Chopping Board
  • Wooden Mallet or Rolling Pin
  • Seafood Picker (alternatively the handle of a stainless steel teaspoon can be used)
  • Tea towel


To cook the crab we recommend steaming is the best option. Steam the crab at 100 degrees for 18 minutes (depending on size), then chill in an ice bath until the crab is cold.


Hold each claw firmly and very close to where it joins the body of the crab and twist off. If it’s too tough use the back of a spoon to help loosen the claw.

Hold each crab toe very firmly where it joins the body, twist until the toe socket comes away from the body.


To remove middle body of the crab (also known as the purse) place the crab on its back, apply pressure to the base of the shell with thumbs until the purse is loosened.


Put the purse of the crab to one side. Turn the shell upside town, apply presure to the top of the shell and you should easily be able to pull what looks like grey fingerlike gills. These are the crab’s lungs and stomach and should be discarded. 


With a teaspoon scrap out the brown meat from the head of the shell into a bowl.


Now all the elements of the crab have been deconstructed and the brown crab meat extracted, you can now start to pick the white meat. The claws are broken down into three sections, carefully twist on the joints.  

Wrap the pincer end of the claw in a tea towel and crack with a mallet or rolling pin. Carefully remove from shell then flake the meat away from cartilage of the claw.

8/ Remove all the crab meat from the legs using a crab picker or the end of a teaspoon.


To pick the purse carefully use a crab picker or the back of the teaspoon to release the meat from the sockets. Repeat process from front to back until it’s hollow. There is a lot of white meat in the cavities, found inwards from where the claws and legs joined the body.


Place in the fridge as soon as the meat has been picked.

We use all elements of the crab at the Cricket (aside from the lungs which is the only part of the crab you can’t eat).

The crab shells go into creating crab stock for sauces and soups. The brown meat is used in our crab soup. The purse white crab meat is used in our signature seafood pancake and the claw meat is used in our crab sandwiches (in fact ¼ lb of crab meat is used for one sandwich!). 

All of our crabs are caught locally from Alan Steer, a fisherman born and bred in Beesands. Alan and his crew start their day at 4.15am, launching their boat Superb-Is from Dartmouth Harbour. They use 630 inkwell style static pots to catch crab and lobster which are dotted in various locations off Start Point. Find out more about Alan.