13 Totally different Varieties of Crabs

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Crabs are varieties of crustaceans that is been round since historical instances. This text options various kinds of crabs that you just won’t find out about.

Mud crab tied with strings in a box.

What are Crabs?

Crabs are some of the historical species on earth, with ancestors discovered within the fossil file over 450 million years previous. Crabs are normally decapods, with 4 pairs of legs and one pair of frontal appendages that come as pincers or claws. All crab species function stalked eyes, and most species transfer sideways, both by swimming or strolling.

These crustaceans are usually omnivorous, feeding on no matter they arrive throughout on the ocean ground, or riverbed. They have a tendency to favor meat, feeding on small fish, mollusks, snails, barnacles and decaying matter and are skilled scavengers. Like different arthropods resembling lobsters, crabs have to molt with the intention to develop, and shed their exterior carapace yearly.

Crabs account for about 20% of the annual crustacean harvest, and people eat about 1.4 million tons of them yearly. Crabs make up an vital a part of the marine biome, and are intrinsic to the method of decomposition inside marine ecosystems.

Their ravenous appetites and willingness to eat absolutely anything make them good for processing decomposing plant and animal matter on seafloors and river beds and recycling these vitamins again up the meals chain.

Laborious shell vs. Mushy shell Crab

Raw soft skinned crab in a white plate.

If you happen to’ve ever dined on the coast, you’ve seemingly seen crab being marketed as arduous shell or gentle shell and puzzled, what’s the distinction? Mushy shell crab and arduous shell crab should not distinct species. Somewhat gentle shell crabs, are simply crabs which can be within the strategy of molting and have shed their exterior carapace.

The method normally takes place in late spring and early summer time, and normally takes about 3 days to finish. To molt, the crab takes on a substantial amount of water with the intention to swell up as a lot as attainable. This course of breaks it out of its authentic shell leaving it pretty uncovered earlier than it could possibly develop a brand new exoskeleton.

It’s normally at this level that gentle shell crabs are harvested. Mushy shell crabs are beloved by seafood lovers due to how a lot simpler they’re to eat, since arduous shell crabs have extraordinarily powerful exterior plates that normally should be damaged open with specialised instruments like mallets, knives and nut crackers.

Mushy shell crab meat is a bit bit completely different flavorwise, the water they tackle provides them a barely brighter saltier style, however they nonetheless retain the sweetness that makes crab such a preferred dish. That stated, should you’re prepared to place within the effort (otherwise you’re paying another person to) then breaking by way of arduous shell crab is effectively well worth the effort, as their firmer flesh has a extra full bodied taste.

Crab varieties!

There are over 4,500 recognized species of crab and since at instances it looks as if we all know much less in regards to the ocean than we do about outer house, I’d wager there’s not less than just a few hundred extra we don’t find out about. That stated, these tenacious bottom-dwellers may be discovered everywhere in the world in many various colours, sizes and styles. Under you’ll discover a pattern of some of the primary varieties you’ll seemingly discover served for dinner around the globe, and one species that -hopefully- you received’t…

1. Chesapeake Blue Crab

Chesapeake Blue Crab in large bowl.

The Atlantic blue crab, also called the Chesapeake blue because of its prevalence in Chesapeake Bay is a ravishing crab. They’re immediately recognizable by their carapace, which ranges from blue to olive inexperienced in shade.

The males of this species have claws which can be shiny blue during, whereas the females have notable crimson recommendations on the ends of theirs. Whereas small, reaching not more than 9 inches in diameter throughout the shell, blue crab supplies an enormous meals supply for coastal communities in North America.

The species has suffered from over harvest and the catch declined from 100 million in 1993 to below 50 million solely 7 years later. Blue crab meat is coveted for its buttery, candy meat and is thought to provide an nearly nutty taste within the claws.

2. Flower Crab

Flower Crab and blue crab displayed above the ice.

One other species of blue crab, discovered within the Pacific and Indian Oceans, flower crabs or Portunus Pelagicus generally simply known as blue crab, sand crabs, blue swimmers or blue manna crab are a extensively distributed species within the Southern hemisphere.

These crabs are a lot bigger than their Atlantic cousins, and whereas rather less candy tasting than the Chesapeake blue they’re extraordinarily well-liked. Mushy shell flower crab is taken into account a delicacy throughout Southeast Asia.

3. Snow Crab

Snow Crab with algae on its shell.

Also called European spider crab or rock crab, the snow crab is a spindly crab species discovered off the East Coast of the USA. They often hand around in deeper water, dwelling in cloisters among the many rocks. Snow crab boasts a delicate, candy tasting meat, with a considerably briny end to it and other people eat each a part of it together with the legs.

In consequence, this is likely one of the hottest species for harvest, and it’s loved in all the pieces from crab truffles and alfredos to easy however delectable crab bakes and boils.

4. Japanese Spider Crab

Japanese Spider Crab on an aquarium.

More often than not, whenever you see the phrases spider crab, it’s referring to the Japanese spider crab. Whereas the European selection is pretty spindly in comparison with most different crab species, the Japanese spider crab is in a league of its personal, and appears like it will be completely at residence in a low price range Sixties horror film set in outer house.

Regardless of their considerably unnerving look they’re some of the coveted species of crab for his or her meat, which in Japan is revered as a real delicacy. These huge creatures can stay for over a century, and likewise boast the biggest leg span of any arthropod reaching a whopping 3.7 meters (12 toes) from claw tip to claw tip.

They’ve weighed in as heavy as 19 kilos (42 kilos), and are rivaled solely by the American lobster by way of mass.

5. Stone Crab

Stone Crab above the rock.

The stone crab is coveted for its succulent claw meat. With extraordinarily arduous outer shells and big pincers, the stone crab, also called moro or morro crab, is fished between mid October and mid Could off the coast of Florida.

The one a part of this crab that’s consumed is the claw, so fishermen will usually tax them by eradicating one claw earlier than throwing them again within the water to recuperate. Stone crabs can regrow their claws absolutely in a few 12 months and a half, supplied they will survive and defend themselves with simply the one claw.

There are positively some hapless crabs on the market which have been cultivated repeatedly as they’re recognized to stay as much as 8 years. Florida regulation requires that stone crab claws be boiled for 7 minutes, after which put instantly on ice, which removes a noticeable briny style that persists in any other case.

6. Dungeness Crab

A person with protective gloves holding a Dungeness Crab

The dungeness crab is a West Coast specialty, with a reputation hailing from the port metropolis of Dungeness off the coast of Washington State. Dungeness crabs develop fairly small, about 20 cm (7.9 inches) throughout the carapace, however they’re extensively thought of to be one of many sweetest tasting crab species on earth, and are valued extremely consequently.

A part of the explanation for his or her unbelievable taste comes from their weight loss plan. Dungeness crab can normally be discovered combing the seafloor for clams, small fish and every other small crustaceans of their path. Earlier than settlers got here to North America, the dungeness crab served as a staple of many Native American coastal societies’ diets, and had been yearly harvested at low tide.

The dungeness crab additionally has the distinctive honor of being designated the ‘State Crustacean’ of Oregon. This got here after youngsters on the Sundown Main Faculty in West Linn, OR efficiently lobbied for its recognition on the premise of its significance to the native financial system.

7. Horseshoe Crab

Two Horseshoe Crab on the sand and dead shells.

The mighty horseshoe crab is likely one of the most distinct trying animals on earth, and in the event that they seem like they predate the dinosaurs, it’s as a result of they do.

Horseshoe crabs have seemingly been roughly unchanged for the final 200 million years, and comparable fossils have been discovered as previous as 450 million years previous (for context, dinosaurs are extensively thought to have been out of the image 66 million years in the past).

Regardless of their massive dimension the horseshoe crab, whereas technically edible, shouldn’t be notably meaty. When cooked or served at eating places solely the roe or eggs of the crab are served and most of the people suppose they style like rubber brine balls.

Nonetheless these crabs are some of the vital species to people on account of their distinctive, shiny blue blood. Horseshoe crab blood is a key ingredient in vaccine growth as a result of it comprises a novel cocktail of exceptionally delicate cells which can be extremely efficient at isolating invading micro organism and viruses.

The blood is now used as a key ingredient in LAL exams, which verify vaccines for contamination – so should you’ve ever had the pleasure of not getting polio (or Covid) you possibly can seemingly thank the horseshoe crab.

8. King Crab

King Crab on a white background.

The king crab is a big species of crab discovered within the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska, and the Barents Sea, a marginal arctic sea off the Northern coasts of Russia and Norway. In contrast to most crab species, king crab solely have 6 legs as an alternative of 8.

King crab is particularly well-known for being the primary catch within the hit TV present Deadliest Catch, which depicts the unbelievable lengths persons are prepared to go for these massive crustaceans. There are about 100 subspecies of king crab, however probably the most coveted are crimson king crab which have been caught weighing in as a lot as 24 kilos.

The flavour of king crab is usually described as candy and delicate, with a bit little bit of contemporary ocean tang. Alaskan king crab is taken into account some of the flavorful species so should you get the prospect to eat it contemporary, take it!

9. Mud Crab

Tied mud crab displayed on the market.

Whereas the title mud crab can be utilized to explain any species of crab that prefers to dwell in or close to mud – it’s normally referring to the species Scylla Serrata, also called black crab or mangrove crab. That is by far some of the well-liked species of edible crab in South Asian nations. Mud crabs may be simply recognized by their rear legs, that are paddle formed.

Mud crabs vary from South Africa to the Indian Ocean, and are present in extraordinarily massive numbers off the coast of Sri Lanka. Populations have additionally been launched in Hawaii (the place they’re generally known as Samoan crab) and Florida.

Mud crabs are famously cannibalistic, and arduous shelled members of the species will often eat different members of the species whereas they’re molting. Mud crab are among the many most flavorful species of crab and are prized above most different seafood in Australia for his or her splendidly distinct, candy and buttery taste.

10. Peekytoe Crab

Peekytoe Crab with different size of pincers.

As soon as generally known as rock, sand or bay crabs, the Peekytoe crab was thought of a throwaway byproduct of the lobster catch, and had been seldom eaten not to mention bought commercially. That every one modified when this species was topic to a massively profitable rebrand and these crabs are actually wanted by cooks everywhere in the world for his or her delicate style.

The meat has a candy and gentle taste and is a favourite for any dish that requires crabmeat. The meat is normally handpicked, cooked and frozen instantly after being caught since peekytoe doesn’t ship effectively alive because of its fragility.

11. Brown Crab

Brown Crab on a white background.

A reasonably iconic crab species, brown crab may be present in abundance in European waters, particularly off the coast of Britain. Brown crab may be recognized by their pie crust carapaces, and boast black tipped claws. Brown crab can be recognized colloquially within the UK as edible crab.

It’s the topic of the biggest crab fishery in Western Europe, positioned in Orkney. Over 60,000 tonnes are caught every year, a 3rd of which may be accounted for by the UK catch. Particular person brown crabs can weigh as much as 3 kilos (6-7 kilos).

Males are also known as cocks, and females are colloquially generally known as hens. The males have a sweeter chicken, whereas the feminine meat is considerably darker and richer, making it preferrred as a base for dishes resembling bouillebaisse. Brown crab can be used to make all the pieces from patés and soufflés in France, to crab pies within the UK.

12. Horse Crab

Horse Crab on a white background.

Essentially the most economically vital and extensively fished crab species on the planet, the horse crab is one other species of blue crab. It’s also generally known as gazami crab and Japanese blue crab, and accounts for over 20% of the annual international crab harvest, with over 300,000 tonnes being caught off the coast of China every year.

Sadly, in recent times this species has fallen sufferer to widespread emulsification illness on account of overfarming. It’s particularly coveted for its ‘crab cream’ or roe, which is taken into account to be extremely nutritious.

13. Satan Crab

Devil Crab with bright red pincers.

This species, also called the poisonous reef crab or satan reef crab is one you received’t discover served up on a dinner plate any time quickly. Satan crab is probably deadly because of the presence of two completely different neurotoxins in its shell and meat. The primary is tetrodoxin, a poison that’s additionally discovered in lots of species of pufferfish which causes widespread paralysis and in respiratory failure in deadly doses.

The second is Saxitoxin, one other paralytic nerve agent -famously the offender behind circumstances of paralytic shellfish poisoning- that was stockpiled by the CIA in the course of the Nixon administration. Simply half a milligram of both of those toxins is sufficient to kill a full grown grownup human. Suffice to say, this little crab has positively earned its moniker.

Imitation Crab

Whereas very a lot and fairly explicitly not crab, likelihood is should you’ve eaten crab at an affordable restaurant or (God forbid) a price range seafood buffet, you then’ve had imitation crab. Imitation crab is a seafood product made from pulverized white fish that has been handled, washed and filtered into surimi, a wonderful paste that’s then formed into sticks by being blended with starch and sugars.

Imitation crab meat is a processed meals, so it comprises preservatives, sugar, salt and is commonly loaded with multi-syllable chemical compounds that you just’ve by no means heard of. Typically it’s higher prevented when attainable, and it doesn’t maintain a candle to the true deal.

Crab Tradition

Humanity’s low-key obsession with crabs goes effectively past their coveted culinary traits. Crabs have a substantial amount of cultural significance in lots of societies as effectively.

The one you’re seemingly probably the most conversant in being its zodiac signal: Most cancers, which is the generic latin phrase for crab. The image originates from Karkinos, an enormous crab that featured as an ally of Hera’s within the historical Greek delusion of Hercules.

The story goes that the crab was an ally of the Hydra, and got here to its support towards Hercules. In retribution it was trampled by the nice hero, however Hera (Zeus’ spouse, for these much less acquainted) honored it for eternity by inserting its stays within the heavens as a constellation.

In lots of indigenous cultures, crabs have a wealthy historical past as an emblem of renewal – in Australia for example there’s a longstanding perception amongst some tribes that crabs are immortal beings, burying themselves within the sand solely to be perpetually reborn.

Influence of Local weather Change on Crabs

Crabs are notably susceptible to the consequences of local weather change, as a result of their shell development depends on uptake from the pure CO2 ranges within the water. This causes calcium carbonate to deposit onto their carapace, which is their key technique of protection towards predation.

A Harvard examine in 2016 on blue crabs harvested from Chesapeake Bay confirmed that hotter water temperatures additionally led to larger respiration charges and extra misery in crab populations.

Different research, resembling one on Dungeness crabs, confirmed that also they are susceptible to low-oxygen occasions, a periodic prevalence that occurs throughout coastal upwelling season in spring and summer time – which is throughout molting season.

Whereas no extinction stage occasions are predicted (these items have survived worse than us) environmental useful resource managers have develop into more and more conscious of the significance of those superb critters to the ocean biome, and are monitoring populations to make sure they continue to be as wholesome as attainable.


Crap shells with tomalley and seaweed wrap.

Earlier than I break down some simple recipes that may settle you right into a heavy, life-long and probably crippling crab dependancy, a pair phrases on selecting the correct crabs. Like with lobster, and with any seafood normally, the standard of your produce determines all the pieces. If you happen to purchase low cost frozen crab, you’re going to overlook out on the subtlety of native caught stuff. That stated there’s positively prime quality frozen crab on the market so don’t rule it out.

Normally although, the freshest crab you’ll get is one which’s alive proper earlier than you eat it, so whenever you go to the shop to pick a crab, be sure you seize the feistiest trying one, since a torpid crab won’t be the healthiest.

Crab Rolls

Crab rolls are simple to whip up, and a favourite wherever inside a day’s drive of Chesapeake Bay. To make them, all you want is:

  • A pound of crab meat
  • 1 / 4 cup of melted butter
  • 2 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice
  • ¼ cup of mayonnaise (crucial)
  • A handful of chopped up inexperienced onion
  • A stalk of celery
  • ½ teaspoon of Previous Bay seasoning – that is crucial if you’d like the TRUE Chesapeake taste.
  • And a beneficiant sprinkle of cracked black pepper

First you’ll wish to put the crab meat, which must be as contemporary as you possibly can probably get it, right into a bowl with the butter. Combine it up so the crab can soak all that thick creamy goodness in. If you happen to’re feeling additional particular you possibly can fry up some garlic within the butter when you soften it down for a bit additional kick.

As soon as that’s carried out throw all the different components into an enormous mixing bowl and whenever you’re comfortable that it’s all blended up properly, throw in that buttery crab meat and knead the combination a bit bit in order that the crab is absolutely ensconced.

That’s your filling carried out! Now all you want is a few toasted scorching canine buns, and a pair prime quality pickles to serve it with and also you’ve acquired your self a maritime basic for the ages.


Steaming different types of crab.

Relating to cooking crustacean, I’m very a lot of the opinion that steaming trumps boiling each time. It’s because animals like crabs and lobsters can get waterlogged whenever you boil them, which impacts all the pieces in regards to the meat from the feel to the flavour.

When you’ll in all probability nonetheless take pleasure in a boil, steaming brings you one of the best of each worlds and it’s faster because you don’t have to deliver a large pot of water to a rolling boil.

To steam crab, simply refill a pot of water with about an inch of water and convey it to a full boil. I’d advise placing your steaming rack in first, because you don’t wish to scald your self by reaching in after the water’s already ripping scorching.

If you happen to don’t have a steaming rack you possibly can simply put one thing else you wish to boil down there for the crab to take a seat on, like potatoes, or different crabs should you’re feeling like a taste comparability.

As soon as they’re in, all you must do is canopy them up and go discover one thing to do for 10 to twenty minutes, relying on the scale of your crabs. When you pull them out, I’d advise operating them below the faucet or throwing them on ice to forestall them from persevering with to cook dinner within the shell.

Then all you must do is clear them, and improvise your approach by way of that shell to get to the great things. Simply kidding, search for a information on-line. Conquering crab, and getting that candy chicken out of its shell is a real artwork type, and there are some actual consultants who can stroll you thru the entire course of on YouTube.

Crab Muffins

Crab Cakes and slices of lemons.

Crab truffles are a real basic, and carried out proper they supply an ideal body for the delicate flavors of high quality crab meat to shine by way of. Many recipes for crab truffles overpower the crab itself with chili seasonings or tonnes of garlic. If you happen to’ve acquired high quality crab then steer clear and hold it easy with this American basic.

You’ll want a pound of crab meat (the higher the crab the higher the truffles). Break it into manageable lumps, I goal for lumps which can be in regards to the dimension of the tip of thumb.

In a bowl, combine up the next:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 / 4 cup of mayonnaise
  • A teaspoon of lemon juice (or one gentle squeeze)
  • Two teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • One and half teaspoons of Previous Bay seasoning
  • Half a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

As soon as that’s carried out, chop up some parsley. A small handful ought to do.

Put the crab meat within the bowl, and gently combine it till it’s all one huge comfortable household, then add the parsley and sprinkle in about one and 1 / 4 cups of breadcrumbs. These must be gentle bread crumbs – white bread is what they historically use- to maintain the truffles all fluffy and light-weight. Be light when mixing as you don’t need it to be a pulp however extra free and light-weight.

As soon as effectively blended cowl up the bowl and chuck it within the fridge for an hour or two to coalesce.

While you’re prepared, form the combination into the crab truffles. I go away the sizing to you, however ideally this combination ought to get you about 8 equal dimension truffles. Then warmth up a pair teaspoons of butter in a pan and add a tablespoon of olive oil.

As soon as it’s a bit frothy and effervescent, throw in your truffles and cook dinner for 4 minutes a aspect, or till they’re darkish golden brown whichever comes first. Serve ’em up with a slaw and a few contemporary lemon to squeeze over them. Whoever you share them with can be singing your praises, mark my phrases.