Native British crab is at its best from April to December, and this seasonal salad makes the most of its delicate flavour
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Buying crab and cooking it
WHITE MEAT: If you like white meat, buy a cock or male crab. Cock crabs have larger claws (and a higher proportion of white meat). Turn the crab over so that the carapace (the top of the crab) is in the palm of your hand. On the underside you'll see the 'apron' (tail-like piece). Males have a slim apron, females (hens) a wide one and smaller claws; they usually cost less, too.
THE WEIGHT: When buying a whole crab, whether alive or cooked, choose one that feels heavy for its size - if it's on the light side, this can indicate it's recently renewed its shell and is still growing into it.
Buying live crab
A live crab should be fairly active when you buy it. Keep it in the fridge for no longer than a day; prior to cooking give it a few hours in the freezer - they hibernate in the cold and will become comatose. Apart from being cruel, the shock of sudden immersion into boiling water can cause the crab to 'shoot' (lose) its claws. Remove crab from freezer, drop into boiling salted water, cook for 30 mins per kilo, cool rapidly, then dress.