How to Clean Soft-Shell Crabs
Soft-shell crabs are a delicacy that are most often enjoyed breaded, fried, and eaten whole. Most fish markets now sell cleaned soft-shell crabs. Occasionally, however, you'll run across a batch of live crabs. Be assured, however, that they have an elementary nervous system, and after the first cut they are dead.
A pair of kitchen shears is essential for removing the eyes, mouth and gills. Numb the crabs by placing them in the freezer spread out on a jelly-roll pan for about five minutes. (Any longer, and they'll freeze to death). Place the crabs on a counter, and cut them across the face at an upward angle to remove the eye sockets and the lower mouth. Then, lift up the tail-like apron and trim off the gills. Cut off the apron. Everything remaining is edible.
From the "Legal Sea Foods Cookbook" by Roger Berkowitz and Jane Doerfer, Illustrated by Edward Koren