Lump crab meat comes in many forms and varieties, depending on the type of crab that is used for its meat, and the preparation methods for harnessing that meat. Regardless of the type, however, crab meat should never smell or taste “fishy,” as it is a sign of spoilage. While it may seem like a difficult or exotic ingredient to work with, crab meat is actually quite easy to cook and extract from the body of the crab, and with a few culinary tricks, you can prevent the crab meat from spoiling and tasting fishy.
Things You'll Need
Fresh Lump Crab Meat
Ask your local fishmonger for the freshest crab available. One of the culprits of a “fishy” smell in crab meat is simply that the crab was not fresh when it was purchased.
Ask to smell the crab offered to you for sale before you buy it. One telltale sign that the crab is not fresh is if it already smells fishy before it’s cooked. If this is the case, ask for a different crab to purchase.
Store the crab in a cold (but not freezing) section of your refrigerator until the time you want to cook it. Do not let the crab sit out in warm air for too long, as the meat can spoil quickly.
Cook your crab (in whichever method you prefer) no more than two days after you purchase it.
Store leftover crab meat in an airtight container in the coldest part of your refrigerator (do not freeze). According to Still Tasty, crab meat should be refrigerated no more than two hours after cooking (Reference 1). After being cooked, the crab meat should still taste and smell fresh for one or two days.
Drizzle fresh lemon juice on top of the crab meat if the meat has already started to smell fishy after storing it for a few days. While this step is a means to disguise the taste, it may be better to trust your nose and simply not eat any crab meat that has started to turn.
Canned or Jarred Crab Meat
Purchase a high quality brand of lump crab meat. Selecting a higher quality brand will ensure that you are getting fresher crab meat than an off brand or discounted brand, which may cook crabs that are not fresh and harness their meat to prevent the loss of profits on the crab.
Pay close attention to the expiration date on the container of canned or jarred crab meat. Always select crab meat with the latest expiration date as a way to ensure you are purchasing the freshest possible product.
Store your crab meat in a cold place in your refrigerator. Do not freeze it.
Follow the can or jar’s expiration date. As the crab meat nears the expiration date, the smell of the meat may become fishy. If this happens, simply squeeze a small portion of a fresh lemon over the meat to freshen the taste. Do not eat canned crab meat that has passed its expiration date.