First you should have a current fishing license and know the legal crabing areas in outside the Bay. Second, you should keep the male crabs while tossing back all female crabs so they can reproduce more crabs for next season.
Note: Dungeness crabs (Cancer magister) may not be taken from, or possessed if taken from, San Francisco and San Pablo bays at any time. For complete regulation information, see the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.
If you look at a crab’s underside, there’s a 'flap' or apron with a distinct shape. Male crabs have a narrow, long apron and female crabs have a wide, triangle apron.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add one or two carbs. The crabs should be fully submerged and covered by water. The water will stop boiling for about 3 ot 5 minutes when the carbs are first put into the water. It's OK. Boil the crabs for about 10 to 15 minutes depending on their size. After boiling or steaming your crab, take them out of the water and 'clean' them for storage.
For starters, turn the crab over and use your thumb to pull the apron away from the body. See above photo
Place both thumbs into the apron area to pull apart the carapace from the body. The carapace detaches completely from the body, but watch out for the yellow guts. They sometimes fly all over the place.
Here you see the yellow guts in the carapace. Rinse the yellow guts off the body. I don't keep the carapace.
Cleaning a crab is very time consuming and messy
Remove the gills from around both sides of the body. What I'm holding in my hand on the left side of photo
Decision time: Do you want to crack the body in half down the middle and server as is OR do you want the crab meat without the shell...?
Two crabs ready for anything!
I'm going to remove all the crab meat from the shell to make a salad. Remove the legs first and place them somewhere safe while you clean the body.
Crack the crab leg shell with a hammer or crab cracker. I've not mastered this process yet, but a good hammer and some chopsticks are very useful in a pinch. Toss the shell and keep the meat.
Now I have my crab meat ready for a salad, crab cakes, crab omelette or by itself with butter.
Thai Crab mango, carrots, cucumber Salad mixed with lime-pineapple-jalapeño-mint dressing. Another favorite is Crab Avocado Mango Salad with Pomegranates! You must try all of these dishes!
Crab Avocado Mango Salad with Pomegranates
Or an omelette like the one below?
Crab Omelette with ginger, green onions, corn, eggs, basil, avocado, and red onions with a side of brown rice, ginger and mint.