Crab is a marine animal that is widely used for human consumption. The most popular edible crabs belong to the family Cancridae. This marine animal basically comes under the category of seafood. Crab is commonly found in tropical as well as semi-tropical regions of world. Crabs are usually differing in sizes. A thick covering is present on the crab and it has five pair of legs. Generally, edible crabs are caught from oceans or even from the fresh water and farmed for human consumption. Edible crab is also known as ‘brown crab’. Nearly ½ million ton crabs are consumed per year throughout the world. Crab lends itself to various authentic crab recipes, for instance, chilly crabs, crab soup and crab bisque.
History of Crab
Middle English language is considered as the parent language for the word ‘crab’. Crabs are also regarded as the oldest marine species in this world. Around 200 million years ago, horseshoe crab was the first crab to be found and it is still an existing species. There are around 4400 species of crabs on this earth and more than half of them are found in North America, either in fresh water or in ocean.
Culinary Uses of Crab
Crab recipes are regarded as the highly-prized recipes across the world due to the rare and expensive varieties of crab. Almost all crab dishes are fondly eaten in the regions where crabs are easily available. Soft shell crab is the one variety that can be eaten with shell whereas other species are used for only claws and legs. Crab is usually eaten with seasonings, most popularly with Old Bay seasoning. Usually, crab recipes are included in meals to provide an authentic culinary experience. It can be either added to make a mundane dish or to make highly-spiced and piquant dishes. Crab meat is well-liked in various cuisines as an appetizing ingredient. It is also used to make crab cake by mixing the meat with flour and seasonings. Several soups and curry dishes also make good use of crabs. Even dips are also made by using crab.
Popular Crab Recipes
• Bisque – It is a popular French soup dish that is fondly made with seafood and mostly with crabs. It is a thick creamy kind of soup.
• Gejang – This is basically a Korean crab dish made by marinating the crabs in Soya sauce or chili sauce.
• Chili Crab – This is one of the most popular crab recipes in Asian cuisine. The origin of this zesty dish is considered to be from Singapore. Though it’s called chili crab it is normally not very fiery and hot. Chili crab is highly popular as an Asian street food.
• Crab cake – This is one of the most popular American crab recipes made with crab meat mixed with flour and other ingredients including milk, egg and seasonings. For binding purpose breadcrumbs are also used along with egg.
• Black pepper crab – It is amongst the highly popular crab dishes of Singapore. Basically, it’s a gravy dish containing lots of black pepper.
Cuisines Commonly Making Crab Dishes
As it is well-known that most of the varieties of crab belong to America, American cuisine is famous for making several crab recipes ranging from simple to authentic recipes. Crab meat is usually extracted from the crabs to be included in some of the most popular crab dishes. Even crab soups and dips are quite famous in American cuisine. After American cuisine, Asian cuisine comes in making various crab recipes. Singaporean cuisine includes crab dishes, for example, chili crab, black pepper crab, crab soup and many other such dishes. Also, hawkers and street food vendors also find it easy to sell crab dishes effortlessly due to increasing popularity of this marine species. Korean cuisine as well as Chinese cuisine also include crab gravies. In Middle Eastern cuisine, crab dip is one of the most famous crab recipes. French cuisine also showcases its fondness of crab by commonly serving ‘bisque’.
Preferred Methods of Making Crab Dishes
Crab dishes are widely made in world cuisines with a good number of methods. Some are as follows:
• Marinated – Crab is usually marinated before adding to crab dishes. This method allows the proper infusion of spices and flavors inside crab meat.
• Fried – Crab meat is extracted from the shell and mixed with breadcrumbs and seasonings and rolled in shape of ball before frying. Fried crab balls are often served with hot sauce.
• Baked – Baked method is used to make crab cake.
• Grilled – Crabs are often grilled to serve as a nicely prepared seafood side dish.
• Sautéed – Crab dishes such as chilly crab and black pepper crab are often sautéed before adding to the gravy.
• Boiled – Crabs are boiled to make crab soup.
Nutritive Value of Crabs
Crab is essentially a kind of seafood that is loaded with nutrients and health benefits.
• After consuming Crab, being low in calories and fat, is considered a heart healthy food.
• It is also an excellent source of proteins and energy. Carbohydrate content is also very high in crabs that make it a recommended food for diabetics.
• Like other seafood, crab is also high in omega-3 fatty acids that strengthen the body immune system.
• Certain vitamins and minerals are also found in crabmeat.
Buying and Storing of Crabs
It is very easy to recognize fresh crab. If odor resembling ammonia is coming out from the crab then it is not considered fresh. Live crabs are always fresh and smell fresh. It is advisable to buy only those crabs that are in the tank for less than a week. Shell of crabs should be in red color with little brightness. If exposed meat is yellow in color or dried out then simply avoid the crab. Dead crabs should be discarded before cooking. Live crab can be stored in refrigerator for not more than 2 days. It should be dipped in a water bowl and covered with a kitchen towel. Crab meat can be frozenwhile wrapping in a plastic sheet. If pasteurized crabmeat is purchased then refrigerate for six months while packed and not more than 4 days after package is opened.
Types of Crab
• Blue Crab – Mostly found in Atlantic coast and it has a soft shell that can be eaten.
• Dungeness crab – These are large crabs with lots of meat and normally found in Northwest coast.
• King crab – Found in North Pacific Ocean and comes in large sizes. Usually, its legs and claws are very meaty.
• Snow crabs – This variety is found both in Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Apart from these varieties, some other crabs such as stone crab, red crab and Jonah crabs are highly popular as a delicacy.
• Only one king crab is sufficient to provide six pounds of crabmeat.
• America owns the highest varieties of crabs as compared to other places.