Soft-shell crab is one of the last live animals you'll find in a grocery store. These days, the animals we purchase are dead and butchered, no longer resembling the wild beasts they once were.
Soft-shells come a-wriggling, fresh and lively. Unlike lobsters, which can be tossed into a steam bath straight from the store, these crabs require a bit of prep. As a result, too many home cooks pass up the opportunity to cook them at home.
But luckily, preparing a soft-shell crab is simpler than mincing an onion; you don't even need a knife to do it.
The first thing you want to do is kill the crab. (After all, it's more humane to butcher a dead animal than a live one.)
Turn the crab on his or her back. This is where I take a moment to thank the crab for becoming my dinner. It's hokey, but it makes me feel better about what comes next.
While the crab is belly-up, take a moment to note the sex. This has nothing to do with killing it, but it will impress your friends. Male crabs have a flap the shape of the Washington monument, while she-crab's flaps are round.
Next, pull the flap down, and use a scissor to snip off any gray matter you find. You can snip off the whole flap if you like, but it's tasty, so I prefer to leave it on.
Then turn the crab on its belly and snip off his or her face. Remove 1/4-inch of the crab's visage, including the eyes.