Squatting on the seawall at Minyak Beku, a ruddy Malay man was processing live coastal horseshoe crabs, which the locals call Ketam Tapak Kuda or Belangkas. The roe is said to be a delicacy and while the animals offer precious little by way of consumable flesh, being almost all shell and scrabbly leg, they are typically cooked over a barbeque. Using a sturdy chopper, the man first lays a crab on its belly, grabs the telson or tail to secure the animal and brings the knife down to sever the opisthosoma (the abdominal segment of the carapace) from the frontal prosoma.
Blows from the top aren't enough, so he overturns the flailing animal to deal cuts from the lower side. Tossing aside the opisthosoma with its still twirling tail, he then cleaves away the sides of the carapace and delivers an ineffective coup de grâce that halves the remaining portion into fragments of pinching pedipalps. The second specimen he worked on was gravid. Each hack stirred up a juicy splash of yellow roe from the book gills that spilled out onto the rock. The elderly pakcik who purchased the crabs remarked that the portions are prepared with assam pedas to make a meal that rivals the flavour of true crabs. I wanted to tell him that I didn't like the taste of crabs anyway, be they true or false, but my daunted duck thought better of arguing with a guy with a sharp object who probably prefers to mince more than just words.