Understanding Crabiness

The other night for dinner, I treated myself to crab legs. The seafood department at the grocery store only had two king crab legs left, so I got those and one snow crab claw. Once I began cracking them and eating them, I noticed a considerable difference between them.That made me think. What is the difference between the different types of crabs?Some of it has to do with the harvesting seasons. Some of it has to do with the taste of the meat. And some of it has to do with their habitats.Most of us could care less when the harvesting season is or where they come from. We are more concerned with how the crab tastes once it is placed on a dish in front of us. Let me offer you a few short descriptions of several of the most popular crabs out there.

Dungeness crab

The Alaska Dungeness crab is found throughout many of Alaska’s icy waters. Dungeness crab has a succulent, distinctive, almost sweet flavor and very tender, flaky white meat.

Dungeness crab is marketed year-round and is usually sold as individual whole crabs, but it is also available as clusters.

Although one of the best ways to serve Dungeness crab is heated and cracked, with melted butter, mayonnaise or any dipping sauce, the delicate flavor of this delicious crab also works well with a wide range of seasonings and other ingredients.

King crab

There are several different varieties of the king crab. The red king crab is the most popular.

Alive, red king crab is actually a dark burgundy in color. When they are cooked they turn bright red with fiery-red highlights on the top part of the shell.

Taste-wise, true red king crab is the best in the world. The meat is snow-white, with highlights of bright red and tastes succulent and sweet.

The shell is harder to crack than some of the others and although there is a large amount of meat inside, it is harder to remove from the shell.

Snow crab

When cooked, the shell of the snow crab turns bright orange. The meat has a rich, sweet flavor and a soft texture. Snow crabmeat is made of tender filaments that are extremely mild and tasty.

The meat is easiest to remove and the shell is quite easy to crack. I have found that in snow crabs, the meat usually can be removed in large pieces.

Stone crab

The stone crabs are a seasonal delicacy, lasting from October through May. Because the survival of this specific species of crab is important, fisherman may not harvest the stone crab between May and October.

Stone crabs are served as claws only. When they are declawed, only one claw may be removed per crab, as the claw will grow back with in months.

The stone crab can be served hot or cold, although it is most popular served cold. Its meat is flaky, white and has a sweet taste to it.

Because they are claws, they are difficult to open, so crackers are highly recommended.

Soft shell crabs

Soft shell crabs are also blue crabs in a new shell.

In order for a hard crab to grow, occasionally it sheds its old shell in order to grow a new, larger shell. The crab’s new shell is extremely soft. After several days in the water, the new shell fully hardens and is about one-third larger in size.

Because it is served whole instead of just the claws, you are presented with an entirely different taste than regular crab legs dipped in butter. In my opinion, soft shell crab has an acquired taste, which I am not too fond of. It is not sweet but salty and a little chewier than the crab legs.

Soft shell crab is an extremely popular dish, especially if prepared in the right ways.

Now when you and your family are on vacation this summer, you won’t have to torture the server with tons of questions on crab legs. You can simply think back to this blog and impress your family members with your new knowledge of the crab.

written by Carole Napolitano

This entry was posted in Crabs & other sea creatures. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Understanding Crabiness

  1. Barbara says:

    What about the Opilio crab?

  2. opilia says:

    Barbara–Snow crab is the market name for Opilio…

  3. Shanon says:

    What is beardye crab? Does it have anyother names?

  4. opilia says:

    Shannon….it’s bairdi crab, it’s one of several types of snow crab. type out bairdi in my search window…there’s other info here

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