How to Split, Devenin, and Eat Delicious Crustaceans
I love crustaceans. Lobsters, shrimps, crabs and crayfish are some of the most delicious things our beautiful ocean has to offer, but all those shells and legs can scare them. Knowing how to eat them is an important skill, and we’ve put together some of the best guides to teach you.
Shrimp, shrimp and that creepy vein
Getting both shrimp and shrimp meat is pretty easy, but if you don’t mind eating your digestive tract (and some people really don’t), you need to know how to do it. There are several ways to do this. This video shows three of them:
The first way is pretty simple. You simply unscrew the head, gently peel off the shell, starting at one side of the body and gently twisting the meat, and remove the tail by squeezing and gently pulling out the meat. After the shrimp are peeled, gently run a small, sharp knife along the back of the shrimp, spread the meat and draw out the vein. You now have lovely prawns or prawns ready for the Barbie (or frying pan).
If you want to keep the tail, just decapitate and clean it in the same way, and leave the damn tail alone. For development, straighten the body of the shrimp and find the beginning of the vein at the site of the decapitation. (Do the shrimp have necks?) While holding the shrimp straight, pull the vein out and discard. Did I mention to keep the shrimp as even as possible? This is very important, failure to do so can rupture the vein inside the shrimp, which is not the end of the world, but you will have to open the shrimp and fish out the rest of the vein.
The third method removes the veins and skin without removing the head and tail, and involves cutting the back of the shrimp through the shell and removing the vein and skin in one stroke. This method takes a little more practice.
All three methods work fine, but I love the flavor of the shrimp when cooked with shell, tail, and head. I used to eat shrimp in the skin and for food with a wild passion, but since I learned about this cursed vein, I have become a little squeamish. Fortunately, there is actually a way to remove the horrible fecal gutter without removing the head, shell, or tail. All you need is a toothpick.
It’s so elegant that I can scream, but it takes a steady hand and a fair amount of practice. First, you need to detach the vein by rotating a toothpick between your head and body and rinse this small space to remove excess sand or debris. Then stick a toothpick between the tail and shell and find the vein. Hook it onto a toothpick and gently draw out the vein by rotating it around the toothpick. Prepare this sucker, peel and eat as you did in the days of blissful ignorance.
I love the taste of the lobster, but until recently I was scared to order the whole, fearing that I would make a fool of myself trying to make out the giant sea beetle. The dude in the video below walks you through the process in an easy-to-understand manner, pointing out every piece of “juicy meat” you might have skipped on your own.
I thought that for someone with a millennial attention span, seven minutes of lobster decomposition would be too many minutes, but it was all so informative that the time flew by. One of the main takeaways is that eating a lobster is much more than just a tail; as our enthusiastic lobster guide explains: “There is meat in every nook and cranny!” (Oh, and if you’re not sure what tomalli is, it is a soft greenish substance in the body cavity that acts as a liver and pancreas. It is considered a delicacy and can be added to sauces and stews, but it should be consumed in moderation as it may contain toxins associated with paralytic shellfish poisoning .)
Rock crabs, a renewable treat
When I lived in Florida, there was one thing I looked forward to more than anything else each year, and that was rock crab season. If you have ever ordered a stone crab, then you know that only claws can be ordered. I never doubted it because the claws are delicious, but it turns out that the claws are obtained by removing them from a live crab, and then tossing that crab back into the ocean, where it will eventually grow another claw.
While it is technically legal to remove both claws from one crab , this is pretty rude and all crabers I know (like two guys) only take one at a time. (Crabs can lead a life without claws, but they have to go from hunter to scavenger, and that leaves the little man largely defenseless.) This information doesn’t really help you break a claw, but it’s interesting, if a little awful.
Either way, once you focus on the “renewable” treat, which is the rock crab claw, you’re ready to crack.
The claws of a rock crab are surprisingly easy to hit and can be split open with the butt of a butter knife. Holding the claw with the inner side up, strike it a couple of blows. Once you see a crack, gently pull the claw out to the sides and feast on the delicious meat inside, with or without lemon oil. (RELATED: Does anyone else want to hire the people in this video as some sort of father and daughter life coaching team, or is it just me?)
Don’t miss the mustard
I once attended a wedding in Maryland and before a holiday I got my clam boyfriend to take me to “eat some delicious crabs” because I heard that was the right thing to do in terms of food. He took me in, but instead of “eating some delicious crabs,” I basically “made a terrible mess and got very little meat” by forcing my boyfriend to sit there instead of eating, watching as I can’t eat crabs. Don’t be like me. Learn how to eat a whole crab.
First, do not use a hammer, these are nails and coconuts, and do not be afraid of meat in the body. You have to remove some organs and whatnot, but behind it all is meat, great meat. To get to the meat, remove the shell, cleanse the organs and split that body in half lengthwise. Grab a tiny oyster fork to get the meat out of your pockets and enjoy. As the video says, you don’t have to be afraid of this yellow color. This is “crab oil” or “mustard” and is almost the same as the lobster we talked about earlier. After you’ve taken care of your body, attack your legs by crackling and gently pulling out the meat.
There are, of course, several ways to crack a crab, and the gentleman in our next video approaches crabs with an eye-in-the-inside philosophy. I say this without sarcasm: this person is an artist and he will teach you to eat every bite of crab in the most efficient way. (The wisest words are: “To eat crabs, you need to be good at sucking and licking.”)
However, I would not use your teeth to crack open shells; you’re just asking for a horrible dentist.
As someone who was born on the other side of the river from Louisiana, you might think that it is natural for me to eat crayfish, but you are greatly mistaken. I find these to be some of the more confusing crustaceans out there, and I have a history of ordering them in this fairy and just skipping the whole mess.
But nothing more. I’m finally going to get there and get confused and in this video it doesn’t look that hard. (If you don’t need to be asked to lay out the plates and napkins, take a minute to get started.)
The first step is to remove the head by holding it firmly and twisting the tail to pull the meat out. ) Some people suck the “juices” out of their heads at this moment, but some do it after they have eaten the meat from the tail. The choice is yours!) Then pinch each segment of the carapace along the tail to split along the back. Stick your thumb in the crack and remove the meat. (Hint: If you happen to eat crayfish in Louisiana , call them “crawfish.” Don’t call them “crayfish” or “crayfish.” Outside of the South , check this map .)
It takes some work to enjoy all of these delicious treats, but I’ve always considered it part of the pleasure. Clicking claws and sucking on juice makes eating crustaceans a more intuitive and primitive dining experience, and it just looks cool.