Crab is one of those foods that make you feel all fancy whenever you get the chance to have it. Depending on where you live, crab might be more ubiquitous or hard to come by.
However, if you like to occasionally treat yourself to crab meat, you will always want good crab meat, right?
There are hundreds of crab species (see also ‘How Do Sand Fleas Taste And How Do You Serve Them?‘) in the world, and they are not all made equal.
If you aren’t well-versed in crab meat, you probably won’t have a clue where to start. Which crabs are good for eating, and which ones aren’t?
Knowing the answers to those questions is especially important if you intend on catching crabs yourself. Before doing this, you’d better double-check with your state’s rules and regulations.
Once you have a license, then you need to know which crabs belong in the pot.
Catching them yourself or visiting a restaurant, below is a list of 11 delicious crabs that are definitely worth the time and money. If you come across these on a menu, you know you’re in for a good time.
Edible Crabs To Try Next Time You Want Seafood
All crab meat goes beautifully with some garlic and melted butter, so that should be a given.
Crab meat typically has a delicate taste that pairs well with simple flavors, but there are always more options available.
So, always take a good look at the menu sitting in front of you and be adventurous!
1. Bairdi Crab
Also known as the giant Alaska snow crab, this is a sizable crab species that is native to the waters around Canada and Alaska.
Their meat is considered to be a delicacy, and is very tender and sweet. Their legs and claws are the most popular parts, and are very sought-after in restaurants.
These crabs primarily live in depths below 1,000 feet, which makes them difficult to catch and source.
Because of this, they are one of the more expensive crab options you can order on the menu. Only mature males are caught to ensure that overfishing doesn’t occur.
Many people consider the tender meat from the bairdi crab to be the best in the world.
Of course, this is subjective, but that just means that you definitely need to try it to make your own mind up!
To prepare this crab, you can easily steam it for about 5 minutes, and either enjoy it on its own, or pair it with melted butter and garlic.
If you’re feeling fancy, you should definitely have a glass of white wine with your crab, and the sweetness from the meat is perfectly complementary.
2. King Crab
Found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the King crab is a large and tasty crab you should try! They thrive in cold waters, are a beautiful reddish-brown, and are covered in little spikes.
The meat of these crabs is notoriously sweet and pleasant, and they are typically steamed to get the best results.
As with most crabs, the legs are the most prized body parts of these animals – there’s a lot of meat in there!
Overall, there are more than 40 distinct species of king crab, and not all are edible. In Alaska, there are only three types of king crab that you should consider eating. These are the red, blue, and golden king crabs.
As their names suggest, the golden king crab is a beautiful shade of yellow or brown, and they’re also covered in little bumps and spikes.
The blue king crab is primarily brown, with highlights of royal blue all over.
The red king crab is the most sought-after of the three, and is highly prized. Its flavor is delicate, but it has a firm texture and sweet taste.
They pair perfectly with melted butter and a little lemon juice, but work wonderfully in crab bisque, too!
3. Snow Crab
Snow crabs are found in the deep waters of the North Pacific Ocean. They are known to live at depths of around 3,000 feet, which is relatively uncommon for crabs!
These animals have square bodies, and are reddish brown in color.
The meat from these crabs is one of the most popular in the world. Specifically, the legs of these crabs are extremely popular.
When you buy snow crab, at least half of the purchase is typically the shell – which makes the meat pretty expensive!
In terms of flavor, snow crab meat is delicate and sweet, and well-worth the money.
To prepare this crab, you can steam it and dip the meat in clarified butter. It; is very easy to overcook the meat, so timing is everything!
4. Dungeness Crab
Found in the Pacific Ocean, Dungeness crab is a very popular seafood option.
It gets its name from Dungeness, a location in Washington where it was initially discovered and then commercially fished! It’s considered a delicacy, so you know it’s good.
The meat from these crabs is dense, and has a nutty and sweet flavor that you will fall in love with instantly.
To prepare this crab, they are usually steamed or boiled. Like with most crabs, it’s served with garlic sauce or melted butter.
Most of the meat from this crab is found in the legs and claws, so it’s fun to eat.
When cooking, you will notice that this crab’s purple shell will turn red – a fun party trick, right?
You can boil and steam them, then grill them before you serve. You can even use the broken shells instead of throwing them away to create fish stock!
5. Blue Crab
Blue crabs are found on the East Coast of the US, primarily in the Chesapeake Bay. These crabs are not harvested year-round, but in between the months of April and November.
Its meat is used in a number of famous regional dishes like Maryland crab soup and Chesapeake Bay crab cakes – two must-try dishes!
In terms of appearance, these crabs have smooth bodies and are primarily brown-green. They have beautiful blue coloring on their legs and claws – giving them their name!
These crabs are actually soft shell crabs, and are harvested when they are in the molting process. This means that you can eat not only the meat, but the shell and everything.
Like most crabs, their meat has a very delicate flavor, but is sweet and pleasant in the mouth. This crab meat is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein while being a low fat and delicious food.
You can get great results by steaming this crab along with Old Bay seasoning, or you can make a crab Louie salad with the meat!
6. Peekytoe Crab
Also called the Atlantic rock crab, the peekytoe crab is found all the way from Iceland down to South Carolina!
They live in depths of around 2,600 feet and actually used to be an unwanted byproduct of lobster fishing. Now, however, these crabs are popular in fine restaurants and are prized!
Although these crabs are small, they have that typical sweet taste that good crab meat is known for. As such, they always work well in things like crab cakes and light salads.
Any dish where the crab meat takes center stage will be a great option. Pairing it with simple ingredients like salt and pepper, some lemon juice, and a little mayo in a crab salad is the perfect choice.
7. Horsehair Crab
Found in Pacific and Atlantic oceans, horsehair crabs are cute little crabs that only measure between 2-4 inches long!
These crabs have speckled brown coloring, and a layer of very fine hairs – which gives the crab its unique name!
As they native to the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, these crabs are incredibly popular in East Asian cuisine.
These crabs have a rich and sweet flavor, with dense and flavorful meat. Its flavor is similar to the blue crab, and they are notoriously difficult to get into!
They are very sought after, and very popular menu options.
Horsehair crabs can be boiled and steamed, but also stir-fried! They pair beautifully with ingredients such as scallions and ginger, and work wonderfully in soups, too.
One of the most popular ways to eat this crab is to simply steam them, then enjoy them with a vinegar-soy sauce mix!
8. Brown Edible Crab
Seeing as this is a list of tasty crabs, you would hope this crab is edible, right? As the name states, thankfully it is.
The other names for this crab include the European brown crab, and the common edible crab.
Brown edible crabs are commonly consumed in West European countries, and are fished from the English Channel, North Sea, and the Celtic Sea.
They can be harvested year-round, but the most popular time is between October and February.
The male brown edible crabs are known for their sweet white meat, while females have brown meat that is more savory.
Since the prime fishing time is during the winter, these crabs are often used in things like stews and soups.
This crab is seen as being a sustainable food source, as it is ubiquitous in the regions where it occurs.
To get a delicious meal out of this crab, all you need to do is boil it and add some melted butter.
9. Florida Stone Crab
As the name might suggest, the Florida stone crab is found in the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s also found all the way from Connecticut to Belize, including the Bahamas, Cuba, and Georgia and Carolina salt marshes.
The meat from these crabs is considered a delicacy, and has a delicate but sweet flavor.
These crabs typically have a stone-colored or brown shell, but it turns a beautiful red once it is cooked.
The meat is found in the legs and claws, with one claw being significantly larger than the other.
Rather than harvesting whole animals, only the legs and claws of these crabs are harvested. Over time, the crabs that survive will regenerate their claws.
You can get the claws of these crabs in four sizes – medium, large, jumbo, and colossal. To get delicious results, you can simply steam or boil the claws, and dip them in some rich garlic butter.
10. Japanese Spider Crab
These are the largest crab species in the world, and can weigh up to 20 lbs! They are found around the waters of Japan, and can outline most humans with a lifespan of up to 100 years old.
Japanese spider crabs have very long legs, and their bodies are covered in rough bumps rather than being smooth or spiky.
The coloring is reddish-brown, often with white or cream and red markings. Their legs can span a colossal 12 feet across – that’s as tall as an African elephant!
Scary as they may sound, these crabs are very popular seafood items in Japan. However, it isn’t an easy job!
Their size and proportions can make them incredibly difficult to cook, especially when they reach their impressive upper sizes.
Generally, these crabs are placed on top of big pots to allow them to steam rather than being boiled.
Once steamed, these crabs pair beautifully with a dipping sauce that is soy-based. These are definitely some must-tries if they’re available in a restaurant.
11. Coconut Crab
This unusual crab is found on islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans. If you were to come across this crab in the wild, you would probably wonder what it even was!
These crabs get their name from their special ability to crack coconuts with their powerful claws. We don’t want to know how strong a crab has to be to do that, so it’s best to avoid its claws at all costs.
Coconut crabs are actually the biggest land-living arthropods in the world. They can have an impressive leg span of 3 feet – a whole yard for a crab!
These animals are nocturnal and will spend the day hours either among the trees or in their burrows.
At night, they emerge to feed on not only coconuts, but also cuts, fruit, and even small animals!
Generally, the meat of coconut crabs isn’t always recommended for eating, However, the meat can work really well in things like curries, so keep an eye out for that on the menu!
Their flavor has been compared to lobster meat, and many people say that the abdominal sack is actually the best part – something to consider.
A Few Crabs To Avoid
- Xanthidae genus (mostly found on Australia’s coast)
- Emerald crabs (found in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean)
- Floral egg crab (found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean)
- Mosaic reef crab (found in Australia and Singapore)
To recap, 11 delicious crabs you should definitely try on a menu are as follows:
- Bairdi crab
- King crab
- Snow crab
- Dungeness crab
- Blue crab
- Peekytoe crab
- Horsehair crab
- Brown edible crab
- Florida stone crab
- Japanese spider crab
- Coconut crab
Each of these crabs offer something different, and they all pair well with a range of things! Depending on where you are, some may be more inexpensive than others, but don’t count on it.
Generally, crab meat is highly sought after, and it will cost you to get good quality meat from any high-quality restaurant.
- 28 Simple And Nutritious Bulgur Recipes - January 30, 2023
- 28 Harry Potter-Themed Cocktails To Inject Some Magic Into Your Drinks - January 30, 2023
- 25 Easy Pizza-Based Appetizers You HAVE To Try - January 30, 2023