How to Get the Seafood Smell Out of Canned Crab

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Canned crab meat is typically used for crab cakes.
Canned crab meat is typically used for crab cakes. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Canned crab meat may have a noticeable seafood smell when first opened. Crab meat is completely cooked inside the can during the canning process. Unless the expiration date has passed, the crab meat from the can is still completely safe to eat. Fishy odors in canned crab can often be reduced with ingredients that complement the flavor of the shellfish. Use real canned crab meat in a recipe without giving the dish an overpowering seafood aroma.

Things You'll Need

  • Ice
  • Mixing bowl
  • Colander
  • Whole milk
  • Can opener
  • Bowl
  • Fresh citrus juice (lemon, lime, orange)
  • Fork
  • Chef's knife
  • Fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, basil, mint)

Add ice to a mixing bowl until it is half full. Nest a colander in the center of the ice. Pour cold milk into the bowl until it is 3 inches deep in the colander.

Open the canned crab meat, if it has not yet reached expiration. Dump the contents of the can into the colander. Add more cold milk, if necessary to cover the meat completely.

Allow the meat to soak in the iced milk for an hour. Lift the colander from the mixing bowl and move it to the sink. Rinse the crab meat in the colander under cold running water for 30 seconds.

Move the drained crab meat to a clean bowl. Add 1 tbsp. of freshly squeezed citrus juice. Gently move the crab meat in the citrus juices with a fork to coat the chunks evenly.

Smell the canned crab meat to see if the seafood smell is still detectable. Continue to add citrus juice 1 tbsp. at a time until the odor is reduced to your satisfaction. Stir in 1 tsp. of finely chopped leafy herbs to further reduce the fishy aroma.

Tips & Warnings

  • Less expensive varieties of canned crab meat generally have smaller pieces and a stronger seafood odor.
  • Finish a cooked dish that contains canned crab meat with another squeeze of fresh citrus juice. The acidic flavor enhances the taste of the crab.

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