How To Shell a Hair Crab

How To Shell a Hair Crab

Kegani (hair crab, a type of crab with sharp 'hair' on the shell) tends to be avoided because it can hurt you if you handle it. But you can get the meat out of it with minimal pain. There are a lot of steps listed, but once you get used to it you can shell one in about 10 minutes.

Ingredients: as much as you want

Boiled hair crab
1 or so
Kitchen scissors
1 pair


1. Cut off all the legs except for the claws with the kitchen scissors.
2. Cut the curved thick part of the legs with the scissors. If you do this all at once you won't have to keep picking up and putting down the scissors several times.
3. Open up the cut parts. Insert your thumb between the shell and the meat, and take out the meat. Do this with all the legs.
4. Turn the body over. Open up the triangular part (the "pants") and take it off. (In the photos the "pants" are still on up to Step 7, but...)
5. Insert your right thumb in the hole left by removing the "pants". Hold onto the shell from below, insert your left thumb in the hole too and pull up.
6. Then the shell and shoulder will pop right off.
7. Here is how it looks when the shell and shoulder have come off. If there is water in the shell, throw it out so that the brown meat doesn't get diluted.
8. The triangle and the thin little bits shown in the photo aren't edible, so pull them off and discard them.
9. This is how it looks after the inedible parts have been taken off in Step 8.
10. Hold onto the base of the legs with both hands (although just one hand is shown in the photo) and break it apart in the middle.
11. The brown part on the left top is brown meat too. Scoop it out using chopsticks or a spoon, and add it to the brown meat in the shell.
12. Here's how it looks with the brown meat removed.
13. Holding onto the base on the legs on the opposite side from the claws, break them off following the direction of the meat.
14. Break all the legs off.
15. Here's how it looks after the right side legs have been broken off.
16. Do the same to the left side legs. Maybe it's easier to do the left side first?
17. Here's how it looks with all the parts broken apart.
18. Holding on to the hard part of a leg...
19. Peel off the thin skin.
20. Pull the meat with your right hand.
21. The shoulder meat will come out in a lump. Do the same to all the legs. When you get used to it, the meat will come off without having to peel the thin skin.
22. The meat removed from the shell is on the upper right in the photo. The leg shells are on the top left. Below are the crab shell with the brown meat, claws and joints.

Story Behind this Recipe

I used to avoid kegani (hair crab) because it can hurt you and it was a bother to shell. If only I'd know how to do it earlier, so I decided to upload the steps.