Note: Crabs in their soft-shell stage are lethargic, harmless, and unable to pinch probing fingers.
Rinse crabs thoroughly in cold water. Place them back-side up on a cutting board. With a pair of scissors, cut lengthwise just behind eyes and remove "face." Lift pointed ends on each side of the back and remove gray spongy gills and yellowish blobs of fat.
Turn crabs over, lift, and snip off apron flap.
Place cleaned crabs on a plate and cover with a damp towel to them keep moist until ready to cook.
If all this nastiness doesn't appeal to you, have your fishmonger do the dirty work.
Crabs that are not sold live, whether frozen or fresh, have been cleaned and dressed.
Like all seafood, soft-shell crabs are very perishable and should be used immediately, or individually wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen.
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