Also known as:

Dungeness crab, king crab, snow crab, blue crab, stone crab, soft-shell crab.


Waters:North Pacific coast, Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Gulf and Florida coasts.

Crabs are distinguished as ten legged crustaceans, the front two marked by pinchers. This definition, however, includes crabs whose shape, color, and habits are vastly different, usually determined by those features which make them most adaptable to a given habitat. crabs come in shades of red, blue and brown, and in all sizes. The Alaskan or red king crab, boasts a vivid red shell, and can grow to a tremendous size (25 lbs!), with most of the weight centered in their well-developed legs. By contrast, the Atlantic blue crabs are small swimmers and carry most of their weight in their comparatively stocky bodies.

Live crabs in the market look exactly as they do in nature, without the scenic backdrop (see above). Cooked crab meat is sold out of the shell and is white or yellowish white and sometimes ringed with red. It comes in either clumps or flakes. Cooked crab legs or Dungeness crab have bright red shells.

Best Cooking:

Crab tastes delicious when cooked in any number of ways, from lumped meat served as a crab cocktail, to freshly boiled and salted, dipped into melted butter and flavored with just a twist of lemon. King and snow crab meat is generally sold precooked, so all you have to do is warm it up (or eat it cold) and serve. Dungeness crabs, however, which often come live, should be thrown into a pot of boiling water and thoroughly cleaned before you eat them (be sure, while cleaning, to save the "crab butter", the golden viscera clinging to the inside of the top shell, as it is a real delicacy and tastes delicious spread lightly on toasted bread). Soft-shelled crab, a seasonal treat, ought to be cleaned before they are cooked - preferably pan-fried or deep-fried, which allows their shells to remain deliciously crisp. crab meat makes a wonderful addition to soups and gumbos, or fried up with other ingredients into crab cakes.

Buying Tips:

As with all seafood, fresh (in this case meaning live) is of course best, however, just-cooked crab or crab meat, purchased from a reliable source, can be nearly as good. Generally, the more meat on the crab, the fatter its legs and claws in particular, the more you'll pay, since spindly limbs make for difficult meat-picking. When shopping for snow crab in particular, don't be put off if the shells bear brownish or even black patches - these are simply a sign of age in the animal, and in no way influence the taste of the sweet, fresh meat.

Nutrition Value:

Crab (Alaska king), 1 leg (4.7 oz.) (133g) (cooked, moist heat)
Calories: 130
Protein: 26g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 2.1g
Fiber: 0.0g
Excellent source* of: Selenium (53.6mcg)
Good source* of: Magnesium (84.4mg), Vitamin B6 (0.24mg), and Folate (68mcg)

When cooked (moist heat), Alaska King crab provides 0.427 grams of omega-3 fatty acids derived from EPA** (0.295g), DHA*** (0.118g), and ALA**** (0.014g) per 100 grams of Alaska King crab.

*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.
**EPA - Eicosapentaenoic Acid
***DHA - Docosahexaenoic Acid
****ALA - Alpha Lipoic Acid

Substitutes for Crab:

Often, when a recipe calls for crab, people substitute processed white-fleshed fish (called sea legs or surimi) that had been pinked to look like crab meat, especially in less expensive sushi.


Crab meat is at its most delectable when the fresh meat is picked and eaten straight from the shell. The meat emerges from the shell in pinkish white clumps, tender and succulent.

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