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How to prepare mud crab: your Marion masterclass

So you want to cook fresh crab? Here’s what you need to know.

How To Prep Crab Cooking Skills

I’m incredibly lucky where I live in Australia to have access to amazingly fresh seafood, and in particular mud crab. The magnificent ‘muddy’ is known and loved here for its jumbo size and its delicious taste. But I get it: as great-tasting as it is… how do you prep and cook fresh crab at home? 


Read on, my friends. I’m here to give you a muddy masterclass so you can have a seafood feast whenever the mood strikes. In fact, I made two versions of Singapore crab for you guys to try: a black pepper version and also a salted-egg one. Check out the article now to see which one takes your fancy… or watch how to prep crab in the handy video below!

How to handle crabs

Live mud crabs can be a bit intimidating – they’re fast, strong and just look at those big claws! (Most often if you’re buying crabs for consumption, they won’t be alive.) Handling them isn’t for the faint-hearted as, once locked on, a claw has a vice-like grip… which remains the case even if the claw detaches from the animal!

Fun fact: mud crabs use their claws to defend themselves and will even shed a claw to escape. They can grow back new claws! 


With that in mind, it pays to be careful. Take precautions such as wearing a heavy-duty glove or using tongs. I also like to hold the crab by its back legs, as it can’t get you from behind.

The… you know… ‘dispatch’ part

I pop my crabs in the freezer first for about 20 minutes – I don’t want to freeze the meat, but I DO want to make the mud crabs a bit sleepy so they’re easier to handle. It’s also the most humane way as the chilling renders them insensible.


For the spiking part, place the crab on a large board, shell side down. You want to rapidly destroy the nerve centres on the underside of the crab with a sharp-pointed knife. 

Cleaning crab

Mud crabs get their name because they bury themselves in – you guessed it – mud, so they need a thorough clean before cooking. You want to start by pulling off the flap on the underside of the crab, then pulling the hard top shell off. 

Clean the crab by removing the under flap and hard top shell.

Next, remove the grey, feathery gills – these are also called the ‘dead man’s fingers’ – then split the body in half. 

Remove the gills, then split in half and rinse clean.

Now it’s time to give the crab a good wash and clean. You also want to clean the shells of the crab. Don’t forget to clean the head too – you won’t want to eat it, but you can definitely use it for decorative purposes. 

Chopping the crab

Now we can get on to portioning up the crab. I like to keep things rather large and chunky by dividing the body into three or four pieces. You then want to crack the hard pincer claws and some of the larger legs by whacking them with the back of your kitchen knife a few times. This helps whatever sauce you’re cooking them in get into all the nooks and crannies and flavours the meat beautifully, plus makes it easier to eat at the table.

And that’s it – you’re good to go! Why not try some of these recipes below out and let me know what you think by tagging me on the socials? 

Crab recipes to try




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