The crab and lobster season is well underway. In small harbours around the coast, little boats are heading out to sea, to pull up their pots and bring in a catch of fresh Irish seafood. The Common or European crab is easily recognised by its pinky orange shell and black claw tips. Males have the biggest claws. Lobsters are also mighty fine creatures. These are blue shelled sometimes speckled with pink. Irish caught lobsters usually come from sustainable stocks, helped by the V notch system which means female lobsters have a small V shape clipped from their tail shells when first caught, so fishermen can recognise them and return them to the water for breeding purposes. You can find fresh live lobster in some of our fishmonger shops. One of the most humane ways to cook is to place in a big pan of cold water, then gently bring to the boil. As the water heats, these large shellfish gently drift off to sleep, with no thrashing in the pan so claws remain intact on the creature. Crab aren’t generally sold whole, but fresh uncooked crab claws are widely available. These just need to be cooked in boiling water for a few moments. The fun begins when they are cooked, and everyone sits down to enjoy the delicious flesh. A good pair of shellfish crackers or the back of a large kitchen knife will help crack crab claws to reveal the meats. Whole lobsters are easy to deal with. Simply cut through the shell lengthways right down the middle from head to tail, to get at the tail meat, then use the crackers to get the meat from the claws and legs. Crab or lobster pickers with tiny pronged ends also help after the shells are cracked. They can be used to tweak the meats from the knuckles of the leg shells. If you don’t mind making a hearty mess of enjoying the experience, eating whole freshly cooked lobster or a platter of crab claws at the table can be lots of fun and very convivial way of eating with family or friends. Some mayonnaise, fresh crusty bread and lemon is all that’s needed as accompaniment. Oh – and a nice glass of white wine also! Enjoy the summer shellfish season.