A Boke of Gode Cookery Presents

To dresse a Crab

PERIOD: England, 1545 | SOURCE: A Propre new booke of Cokery | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: Crab meat dressed in its own shell

To dresse a Crab.

First take awaie all the legges and heddes / and then take all the fisshe out of the shelle & make the shelle as clene as ye can and putte the meate in to a disshe and butter it upon a chafyng dishe of coles and putte there to sinamon and suger and a little vineger, and when ye have chafed it and seasoned it / then put the meate in the shelles again and bruse the heddes and set them upon the disshe side and serue it.

To dress a Crab.

First take away all the legs and heads / and then take all the fish out of the shell & make the shell as clean as you can and put the meat into a dish and butter it upon a chafing dish of coals and put thereto cinnamon and sugar and a little vinegar, and when you have warmed it and seasoned it / then put the meat in the shells again and bruise the heads and set them upon the dish side and serve it.

  • Freshly steamed or broiled crabs
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar
  • Vinegar
  • Butter
Remove the legs from the freshly cooked crustaceans & discard. Open the shell of each crab and carefully remove all the edible meat and set aside. Discard what remains & clean the bottom shells thoroughly. In a bowl shred the crab meat with a fork; moisten with vinegar (white wine vinegar would be ideal, but any other vinegar would do as well). Season with sugar and cinnamon and blend together mixture with your fork. In a pan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the meat & cook until completely heated through. Place the meat back into the cleaned shells, arrange on a serving platter, and serve at once.

The original recipe calls for the side of the serving platter to be garnished with the cooked crab heads, slightly "bruised" or cracked, indicating that crayfish may also be used.

For an added visual effect, sprinkle a little fine cinnamon over the shelled meat just before serving.

This dish may also be served with additional vinegar or clarified butter as a side sauce.

Read a medieval text about crayfish HERE.

See a medieval illumination of prawns from A Feast for the Eyes.


RETURN TO:  A Renaissance Cookery Book

A Boke of Gode CookeryA Renaissance Cookery Book
© 1997 - 2003 James L. Matterer