Things You'll Need
Live red rock crabs
Large lobster pots
Plastic sealable food storage bags
Although not as well known or as popular as Dungeness crabs, red rock crabs are every bit as tasty. While they have been recorded as large as 10 inches across the shell, red rock crabs are usually 4-6 inches wide. If you're planning a crabbing trip, be sure to check the current regulations for your area. Crabbing regulations usually change from year to year and always vary from state to state. Or you can purchase these delicacies, which are most commonly available in Asian markets. The flesh of cooked red rock crabs is a little more difficult to extract from the shells than that of the Dungeness, but well worth the effort. The meat can be used in any of your favorite crab recipes. Plan on 8-10 red rock crabs per person, as the claws contain most of the meat in this species. If you're squeamish about dropping living crabs into boiling water, put them into a plastic container with a tight fitting lid in the freezer for about 20 minutes immediately prior to cooking. This will slow their systems down and they'll go to sleep, which results in no thrashing around in the boiling water.
Fill a large lobster pot with very cold water, add a couple of trays of ice and set it aside. Fill another large lobster pot with water up to 3-4 inches from the top. Add ¼ cup of salt for each gallon of water, and bring to a rolling boil.
Begin dropping the crabs into the boiling water one at a time, taking care not to overcrowd the pot. Each crab should move freely about in the water with the boiling action. If you have a lot of crabs, cook them in batches.
Once the crabs have been added and the water stops boiling, cover the pot. Return it to a boil, and continue to cook for 12-15 minutes. When the crabs begin to float to the surface of the water, cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Remove the crabs from the boiling water with tongs and plunge them immediately into the pot of ice water. This will halt the cooking process, as well as prevent shrinkage and drying of the meat.
Cool the cooked crabs in the ice water for 3-4 minutes. Remove them from the water and drain them. You can let them cool further if they're still too warm to handle comfortably with your fingers. It's all right to begin picking out the meat at any time after removal from the ice water.
Put any unused whole cooked crabs into plastic sealable food storage bags. They'll keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Most of the crabs that you can purchase have just recently been killed or are still alive. Pre-killed crabs are safe to use if they’ve only been dead for a few hours.
Crabs that you catch yourself should be cooked as soon as possible. If it’s not possible to keep them alive and it’s going to be awhile before you can get to cooking them, be sure to keep them well iced. Raw crab meat spoils rapidly.