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Preparing Soft-Shell Crab

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.

Soft-Shell Crab

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.

Whatever the gender, take an ice pick to the right topmost part of the genitalia and insert. This will lead to even more wriggling, which can last for another 10 minutes. Don't let the involuntary muscle action upset you; this crab is dead.

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