Picking meat from cooked crabs can be a messy, slow process. It’s a fun meal with a group of friends, but you’ll need a lot of napkins.

The Pacific Coast boasts the big, meat-filled, Dungeness crab. To cook them, just boil up a pot of salted water, and serve them hot or chilled, with melted butter to dip the sweet meat into. The meat makes a fine crabcake, too.

The blue crab, from the Chesapeake Bay area and the Gulf coast, can be boiled or steamed, usually with the addition of Old Bay seasoning or a spice combination of your own. For a dipping sauce, some folks like cider vinegar. The meat from the blue crab makes great crabcakes.

When a blue crab molts, the new shell is paper thin. These are known as soft shell crabs. At this stage, the crab can be cooked and eaten shell and all.

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