Here’s another method that I use whenever the Crab Gods have bestowed upon me a bountiful harvest of Atlantic Blue Claws. It differs from the method in the excellent writeup above only in that the crabs are cleaned before steaming.
To clean your crabs, you will need a pair of tongs and a work glove. Don the glove on your non-dominant hand. Then, pick up a crab with the tongs.
Warning – Be careful at this stage, as you are in danger of getting pinched if you do it wrong. Keep the crab’s claws occupied and pointing away from its body, preferably with the tongs, or another person.
Lay the crab’s belly on the palm of your non-dominant and gloved hand, with the base of your ring finger and middle finger right in front of its face. One of the the crab’s claws should be sticking out between your middle finger and index finger, and the other claw between your pinky and ring finger. If you keep your fingers as close to the crab’s body as possible, it will not be able to pinch you. Lay your thumb over the base of its legs. Now, use the thumb of your dominant hand to pry open its shell.
After a couple tries, you should be able to get the entire shell off with one flick of the wrist. There are a lot of icky guts inside the crab. Right in the middle is a dime-sized mass of gray goo (the brain). Stick your finger or other object (wuss!) into the brain and wiggle around.
It is now technically dead, but be aware! Crabs are much too stupid to know they are dead, and will still squirm and pinch on occasion. Clean away all the blood and guts (anything that’s not white) with a hose, and throw the squeaky clean crab into your pot. Peel the apron off the crab as described in the writeup above, and rip off the face.
Repeat en masse, and enjoy!
Alternate method for Wussies and the ASPCA:
Clean one crab using the method above. Remember where the brain is. For the following crabs, drive a nail (not a lead nail) through the shell and into its brain before cleaning it. This will make cleaning easier (but less fun), and should minimize the pain for the crab.
Me, I’ve had a proverbial buttload of scars and wounds that say “Make ‘Em Suffer.”