You can buy whole cooked crabs to prepare at home. Choose one that feels heavy for its size, because it will be full of meat. A dressed crab makes a very special cold dish, with both brown and white meats attractively presented. Each of these meats have very different textures and flavours; the white is sweet and pure, and the brown is rich and creamy. The brown meat is also excellent added to pâtés or sauces. A 500g (1lb) crab
To prepare a cooked crab, turn it on its back and pull off its claws and legs. Discard the legs unless they are big and contain lots of meat. Hold the crab bottom side up and twist off the tail, which you can discard.
Use a small hammer to crack the shell on the bottom around the body. Pull the central body part out of the shell. Discard the grey lungs which look like tentacles, and pull away the spongy stomach. Discard.
Cut the central body in half with a heavy knife. With a metal skewer scoop out the white meat into a bowl. Using a spoon, scoop out the meat from the main shell, under where the body was, keeping the brown and white meats separate.
Crack the claws with the hammer and extract any meat with the skewer. Mix brown meat with alittlemayonnaise and seasoning and white meat with fresh lemon juice. Arrange separately and serve with brown bread and butter.
If you want to use the crab shell as a serving container, lightly tap the line around the opening of the shell with a small hammer or rolling pin and pull away the shell to enlarge the opening. Wash well with soap and hot water, then dry.