Stone crab claws are an essential ingredient in Florida cuisine. They are also considered one of the tastiest seafood in the world. Stone crab claws can be compared to lobster, but with softer meat and a sweeter taste.
1. Check to see if the crab is alive
This is the foremost measure of knowing how to crack stone crab claws. A living crab usually feels heavier than a dead one, and it should try to pinch you if you hold it in your hand. If the crab is alive, put it on ice for at least 15 minutes to force it into hibernation; this will make removing the claws easier. You can also tell if a crab is alive by how heavy it feels—a live stone crab will weigh more than its dead counterpart. However, the best way to measure weight is with an accurate digital scale that reads in grams (g).
2. Remove the legs
Next, remove the legs by twisting and pulling them away from the body. Then remove the claws by twisting and pulling. To crack open a claw, a hammer or mallet hit it just above its attachment point with a swift blow. You'll want to hold onto your piece of the shell, so you don't lose any meat. It may take several strikes before you can break through the body, but once it's cracked open, you should be able to wiggle out what remains of the shell fragments with tweezers or tongs.
3. Remove any shell fragments
Crabs with small shells have more tender meat, so if you can find them, use them for this recipe. However, any crab will do. When removing the body from your stone crab claws, there are a few essential things to keep in mind: Use tweezers or tongs instead of your hands. Don't get any shell fragments into your food.
4. Remove all other pieces of shell
First, you'll need to use your hands to pull apart the lower half of each claw. This is where you'll find the meatiest part of the lobster tail and will help ensure that it's fully exposed. Next, remove all other shell pieces inside the claws before pulling them apart again with pliers or another tool designed for this purpose.
Knowing how to crack stone crab claws requires tools and elbow grease, but it's not as scary as you might think. Once all the meat has been removed from both sides of the shell fragments, use tongs or tweezers to remove any leftover fragments stuck in their crevices before discarding them in a trash bin outside your home so they won't attract pests like flies or rats back inside where they could pose an even more significant threat than outside wildlife would have been otherwise.
How to crack stone crab claws at home?
- Add water to a pot and bring it to a boil. The water you use will depend on the number of crab claws you are cooking, but it should be enough to cover the crab claws completely.
- Add stone crab claws to the boiling water for about one minute; remove from heat.
- Boil crab claws for about one minute. Remove from heat, drain and allow to cool for about five minutes. To crack the crab claws, place them on a cutting board or another flat surface with the curved side facing up.
- Remove as much of the white membrane as possible while keeping it intact enough to hold together during cooking. Using kitchen shears, cut off the pointy finger of the claw where it connects to the main body of the shell.
- Be sure not to cut too far into the shell—you don't want to break through it completely or run into any bones. Pull apart the two halves of the main body using your hands or a hammer or mallet. Once the claws are frozen, you'll want to thaw them in a sink full of ice water.
- Pull apart the two halves of the main shell using your hands or a small pair of pliers. Scrape out all the meat from the inside using your fingers and a spoon or butter knife.
How to crack stone crab claws without a cracker?
1. Use a pair of pliers
It's easier to crack stone crab claws with a unique tool. Just grab a pair of pliers you likely have in your kitchen drawer and use them to break the claw in half right at the bend. You'll notice a little knuckle sticking out between the two halves—that's what you need to pull apart with your hands. The meat (and shell) will separate from each other quickly. You may find some meat still attached to the surface; if so, remove it with your fingers.
2. Twist and pull. The meat (and shell) will separate from the knuckle easily.
The next step is to twist the claw and pull it apart. You'll be able to see that the knuckle separates from the shell, leaving you with just a piece of meat attached to a hunk of crab claw. The core is what you want so that you can discard that chunk.
3. Place the claws in a cotton bag and keep them refrigerated.
This method is perfect for those who don't have access to a cracker but still want to enjoy stone crab claws on their terms. Place the claws in a cotton bag or wrap them with a paper towel, then store them in your fridge until ready to cook. Before cooking, only let them sit at room temperature for up to two or three hours.
4. Before cooking, you may have to thaw frozen stone crabs for about an hour.
The thawing time depends on how cold they are, and it can be done in a microwave or refrigerator. You want them out quickly, though, because thawed stone crabs spoil quickly.
5. Boil the stone crab claws for about 10 minutes.
But first crack the stone crab claws with a cracker and then boil them in water. The next time you eat stone crabs, use a large pot, add water, and bring it to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the stone crab claws and cover the pot with its lid. Boil for about 10 minutes before removing them from the heat and draining any excess liquid that may have accumulated in your pool.
6. Remove the outer shell of the claw from the meat by twisting it in opposite directions.
There are several ways to get to the tasty meat inside. You can use a mallet, crab cracker, or pliers. The third option is to put the leg in the water and wait for it to die before removing it from its shell with a pair of pliers.
How to crack stone crab claws with a spoon?
Thaw them out
The best way to thaw stone crabs is in a bowl of cold water. Please leave them there for about an hour, but only let them sit for up to two. Another option, if you don't know how to crack stone crab claws, is to submerge the claws in a bag of cold water and leave them there for an hour or so. It's best not to use warm water because this can make the crab meat mushy and lead to bacterial growth on your claws.
Keep your thumb on the back
The key to breaking open a stone crab claw is to keep your thumb on the back of the claw, so you don't lose any meat. Hold it by its side and put your thumb right up against where it connects to the crab's body. Then use your other hand as leverage, pushing down against that connection point with some force.
Hold the claw in your non-dominant hand
With your non-dominant hand, hold the claw so that your thumb is above, and your other fingers are underneath. Once you have cracked open one side of the shell, use your dominant hand's thumb to pry it apart while holding onto its knuckle with your non-dominant hand.
Push the spoon away from you
You'll want to use the spoon to push your stone crab claw away from you, so it opens like a flower. With your other hand—the one holding the claw—use some pressure at the base of the shell to keep it in place while you apply pressure with your tool. Now comes the fun part: pressing down on the fleshy part of both sides where they meet each other.
Twist the handle toward you to crack it
The next step is to twist the handle toward you to break through the shell. Using a too-wide spoon will make this step difficult, so keep this in mind as you select your tools. Once a crack has formed in the stone crab claw (which should be easier with a sharp edge), use another tool (such as a fork) to pry open the shell and remove its contents.