Put your fresh crabs in a pot. If they are not dead you should kill them humanely. This suggested method is from the RSPCA website:
“Crabs have two main nerve centres. One is located at the front of the animal under a shallow depression and the second lies towards the rear of the animal and may have a small hole positioned over it. The recommended method is to lift the abdominal flap (tail flap) and insert a knife all the way through the hind nerve centre, followed by a repeat of the process on the front nerve centre via the shallow depression at the front of the body.”
Alternatively, you could put them in the fridge for half an hour and then the freezer for one hour so they go to ‘sleep.’ Crustaceans are cold blooded so when their temperature is reduced they become insensible.
Place crabs in a large cooking pot with no water. Put the lid on and bring to the boil. Cook for around 15-20 minutes on a medium heat until they have fully changed colour to a bright red.
Rinse the crabs immediately with cold water. This stops the cooking process.
Now if you haven’t already done so – change into old clothes. Picking crabs is messy work!
To pick the crab meat out, peel back the inner triangular flap using your finger. Pull back over the crab’s back and remove the whole top shell.
Tear body in half and remove gills and internal organs. Some people like eating the mustardy liver; some people don’t.
This crab is a female – you can see the yellow eggs. Some people love eating this.
Use your fingers and the crab craws to painstakingly remove every bit of crab meat from the shell.
You’ll end up with a small bowl of crab meat, which seems completely out of proportion to the effort that you’ve just expended. But keep going, it’ll be worth it, I promise.
Now grab your other ingredients. Squeeze the lemon and mash the avocados.
Find your best small crystal bowl to serve the dip and make equal layers of cream cheese and avocado, finishing with crab. Top with lemon juice and dribble over sweet chilli sauce. Finish with a grind of black pepper.
I have to confess I am deeply disappointed with how the dip actually turned out. Not the taste – the taste was magnificent – but the photos just don’t do the dip justice.
I couldn’t find the small round bowl that my dad used last time so had to make do with an oddly shaped vessel that was really impractical for a layered dip. Usually, we try to make the layers more or less equal but it was difficult with this shape and the cream cheese layer is disproportionately large. The vessel was also too small: I could only fit one avocado in instead of two. Moreover, the sundae glass shape of the vessel made the crab dip look like a funky seafood dessert.
I was also racing against the clock when I took these photos as the daylight was fading fast. Hence, the rather dull pics. I could pretend that I wanted them to look moody and atmospheric but then I’d be lying.
So I was feeling a little disappointed when I finally made it to my parent’s house with the dip in time for dinner. All that effort – and for something that looked like a seafood sundae!
But then I tasted the dip.
And I heaved a great sigh of perfect bliss.
I’d do it all over again, precisely the same way, if I could eat that exact same dip each time.