This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
There are several varieties of edible or marketable crabs, besides a good many that are merely natural curiosities. The smallest is the Oyster Crab, found living in the same shell with the oyster, and of late this has come into the list of delicacies; oyster crabs in various styles are served at the restaurants-mostly, however, in the form of a bisque soup. There is another variety so like it in size and appearance as to lead to the inference that when oyster crabs are scarce, as they must generally be, the other one may be made to do duty for it. This is the Fiddler Crab - one of the most singular of living creatures; it is only a size larger than the oyster crab, but instead of passing its life in water and an darkness it loves the sunshine; it lives in moist burrows in the sand near salt water, and comes out in countless thousands, making strange motions at the mouth of its burrow when there are no intruders in its precincts; it has one large claw, nearly as big as its body, which it either folds across its front like a shield, or extends and makes the fiddling motion with, the other claw being diminutive, no larger than one of its legs.
These are caught and used for bait.
Sea Crab grows as large and has as heavy claws as the largest lobsters; some are nearly covered with thorny projections. These large specimens are the kind to serve as dressed crabs in their own shells. The Common Small Green Crab seems to exist in all parts of the world; it is found in the markets by the wagon load, and is the staple kind for all the ordinary well-known dishes of crab.
Crabs boiled five minutes in salted water, the flap and inside part called "the dead meat" and "the lady," but which is the gills and generally sandy is thrown away; crabs pulled open, back shells saved whole, all the meat collected and chopped fine; thick sauce made by simmering chopped onion in butter, adding flour, then milk, salt, white and red pepper, yolks, minted parsley, lemon juice, and the crab-meat; shells filled with the mixture; bread crumbs on top; baked.
A large crab boiled, the meat picked out, mixed with salt, pepper, nutmeg, cream or melted butter, and bread crumbs; shell filled; crumbs on top; baked; served hot with toast.