Brown crab is a species of crab which can be found in waters all the way from Norway in the North Sea down through the English Channel and along to the coast of Portugal.
As the nation’s favourite crustacean, brown crab is commonly eaten whole, in crab cakes, or used in a range of seafood dishes. Crabs contain both brown and white meat. The soft, flavoursome brown meat tends to be the most popular choice for dishes with the white meat having a slightly more delicate flavour.
Brown crab is actually one of the most sustainable seafood species you can choose all year around. This is due to its widespread distribution, quick reproduction rate and the use of crab pots by fishermen to catch them. Crab pots limit the damage to the seabed which can be caused by some fishing methods. They also make it easier for fishermen to return any unwanted or undersized catches back to the sea.
The stocks of brown crab in the South West have remained healthy thanks to good fishing practises and regulations. Each year, hundreds of kilos of crab is landed at Plymouth Fisheries before being sold to local businesses or transported further afield. If you are interested in purchasing crab landed at Plymouth Fisheries contact two of our leading fish merchants based at the Fisheries Complex - Rex Down Fish Merchants or Moby Nicks.
When buying crab it is important to ensure that it is fresh and recently caught. Don’t buy crabs which are already dead ideally, as they are best cooked immediately after killing. You can always ask your fishmonger to kill the crab for you just before you take it home, if you are not comfortable with taking them home alive.
Fresh brown crab is easy to cook however – and if you buy them live, the RSPCA recommend freezing a crab for at least two hours before cooking, in order to render them unconscious first. The crab can then be placed legs down into a pan containing boiling water or stock. Simmer in the pan for 12 minutes per kilo of crab before removing the pan from the heat and enjoying, or leaving to cool if you’re using the crab meat in a recipe.
Preparing crab meat can be messy and does require some manual work.
BBC Good Food provide a great step by step guide on how to prepare crab which can be found online. After the crab has been deshelled and the meat has been prepared it can be used in a dish of your choice.
You can find a selection of recipes which use crab meat on Fish is the Dish’s website here.