Before Crab Get Caught

What happens to the crabs before they are caught to be cooked?

They go on their merry way...they molt 3-4 times a year. While molting, they hide from prey, burying themselves in the sandy or rocky areas of the ocean floors. They eat, they mate and do their best to avoid being prey.

Return to Crab Chat.

How Old Are Crab?

by Jimmy

How old, normally, is the crab that we buy at the market, ie, dungeness crab?

Good question, Jimmy! Dungeness crabs can live as long as 13 years, but normally around 8-10 years old. I would suspect that King, Dungeness and Snow crabs could live even longer in ideal conditions.
One way to tell an older, more mature crab from the younger crabs is not only from its size, but also color. Older crabs from 4-5 years or longer will take on a deeper purple colored tones in their shells and also produce barnacles on their shells from being on the ocean's floor longer. The undersides of an older male, too, will advance a dark coloration of deep dark beige and brownish colors.
Also, when cooking crabs up, some older crabs can also have an ammonia-like smell to their meat. Don't let the smell back you away from feasting on them! The meat is still sweet and delicious and being a bigger and more mature crab means...more yummy meat!
So, normally, if you purchase crabs, like Dungeness, still in their shell at the store and wondering how to pick a good ol' boy crab... Pick one that is purple toned or deep dark red toned.

Return to Crab Chat.

Legal Places to Catch Dungeness Crabs

by Kristy
(San Francisco)

Hi. I live in San Fransisco and have been searching long and hard for any legal places to catch dungeness crabs. Do you know any places? Not places that requires a boat, where I can get some? Where, when, legal size (heard it's 5 3/4in) and limit per person. Greatly appreciate with every bit of information you can provide.

Thank you,

Hello Kristy!
I understand your frustration trying to find information in the San Fransisco area. It took me awhile, but lo and behold, here it is...

Crustacean information start on pages 55-56. According to the pdf, the legal size is 5 3/4 inches and limit per person is 6 the San Fransisco area.

I also called the CA marine main office as I suspected that the SF area is closed to dungeness crabbing right now. It was closed on June 30th, 2009, and will open again in November, 2009.

For more information, you can call the California marine main office at (831)649-2870, to direct you to places where you can crab in season without having to have a boat.

Return to Crab Chat.

Is late may to early for crabs at the Jersey shore?

by Bryan
(New Jersey usa)

id like to go crabbing and was wondering if late may 22nd and on to early to catch a good amount of crabs someone please email me and let me know


Since, according to NJ Dept of Wildlife, the season runs from March to December, I think that late May would be perfect for you. Be sure to check your local regs. for rules and possesion limits etc. and then go have a ball!

Return to Crab Chat.

Chinese Mitten Crab

by Mark
(Incheon, Korea)

Ahoy there, crabbers! I was just out fishing on the Han River in South Korea, and I saw hordes of what I think were Chinese mitten crabs
(Eriocheir sinensis) climbing out onto the shore to get around a dam. An old man came along and just scooped them up with a dip net; I tried to get some info from him, but my Korean is practically nonexistent.

Anyway, catching them looked ridiculously easy, so what do I need to know to try cooking some of these guys up? They're little things (about 1 to 2 inch carapaces, not counting the legs), and I've heard parasites are a big concern with freshwater crabs.

Well, pique my curiosity! Have never even heard of these critters and so had to do some looking around.....It seems that the event you saw at the damn is not uncommon at all with these crab.

According to Wikipedia, they have been known to make significant inland migrations and in some places the crabs have been found hundreds of miles from the sea. It is also a "highly invasive species" and has spread to both North America and Europe.

As for eating them, the Chinese Mitten Crab are truly a famous delicacy in Shanghai, especially for the roe. Some Chinese have, in fact, paid hundreds of yuan just to taste some particular small Chinese Mitten Crabs from the Yangchen Lake.

From what little information I have found, it seems that the best way to eat this crab is to steam it for 20 minutes and serve with fresh ginger and Jinjiang vinegar. The crab should be eaten by taking apart the stomach cover and eating the roe and then the meat. The meat is often dipped in vinegar, according to their customs, to give the taste a bit of a lift. Afterwards it is recommended to drink some hot ginger tea to balance the energy in the body, as according to traditional Chinese medicine, crab is cold or 'yin'.
This is about all we found out about the Chinese Mitten Crab. Hope you are getting to experience their delicacy as well. Feel free to come back and share...Enjoy!

Here's a recipe we found using Chinese Mitten Crab if you're interested...

Chinese Mitten Crab Recipe


2 pounds-live mitten crabs
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
8 cloves garlic, cut in half
1 medium-sized potato
2 cups-rice
1 small chili
1 bay leaf
3 liters-fish stock (about a gallon)
1 Tablespoon tomato puree
1 pinch saffron strands
1 glass white wine
1/2 head of fennel, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Splash of Thai fish sauce

Wash the Crabs thoroughly.
In large stock pot on the stove on low heat add the olive oil, onions, garlic and fennel. Sweat off slowly on a low heat for puree, and then cook for another 2 or 3 minutes. Bash the crabs for a minute with a rolling pin. This will help to release the crab meat flavors.
Now add the rest of the ingredients and bring it all to a boil. Skim off any froth or foam that may rise to the surface. Keep simmering the impurities off the soup and stirring occasionally. Blend for 30 seconds and pass through a sifter. Season with the Thai fish sauce and serve and enjoy!

Return to Crab Chat.

Hard Shell Blue Crab Claw Areas

by Vinny Ursino
(Audubon, New Jersey USA)

What states in the Gulf Coast area has hard shell blue claws?

I would imagine all the states along the east coast and down through the Gulf Coast area will have hard shell blue claws!? That whole area from Maine on the east coast, down to Florida and across to the Gulf Coast is where the majority of Blue Crabs are found and caught! The largest of the Blue Crabs will be found along the Gulf Coast region along Louisiana (of course!) and all the bordering states. You should be able to find them in their neighboring states as well.
The claw meat from Blue Crabs are darker in color and much more flavorful than their white crab meat parts and the lump meat.
Hope this helps and hope you can find some of those Blue Crab Claws!

Return to Crab Chat.

Blue Crab Claws

by Edited

How can I keep blue crab claws that I just caught until Sunday? Is that ok?
Edited answer:
Yes, I believe so! I misunderstood earlier when I responded. Up here, we sometimes catch red-rock crab which are quite small but the claws are delicious and therefore "some" of us remove the main claws for eating later and toss the crab back to re-grow new claws. If indeed this is what you have done basically, then, as long as they were frozen and/or kept on ice..... they should be absolutely delectable. Whole crab ABSOLUTELY need to boiled before "death" but...legs removed should be fine as they as they are kept "on ice".... the same (on ice) goes for for crab that are cleaned while still out to "sea".... Catch e'm... Clean 'em (IMMEDIATELY!)...Cook 'em...Eat 'em!...ENJOY!!!!!

Return to Crab Chat.

Red Tide Warnings For Crab

(Pacific Northwest)

Crab Butter

Crab Butter

Red tide warnings for crab and other shellfish are common in any season's of shell fishing including crab fishing. High levels of paralytic shellfish poison are commonly known as "red tide" in all species of clams, mussels and oysters.

People who eat contaminated shellfish can suffer numbness of the lips and tongue, nausea, vomiting and, if they eat enough, muscle weakness and difficulty breathing.

Warm weather and a mix of nutrients creates a fertile environment for microscopic plankton that produce the toxin. Filter-feeding shellfish that eat the plankton can build up the toxin in their tissue.

With this said, the red tide warnings, in the Puget Sound area in Washington state should be regarded.

In north Puget Sound, crab fishing is permitted, however, with regards to the red tides, crab is not included in the closure, but "crab butter," (as shown in the photo above) the white-yellow fat inside the back of the shell of a large crab, which some consider a delicacy and is often added to dressings and sauces served with crab, should be discarded, the health department said.
Only the crab meat is safe to eat.

Return to Crab Chat.