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There’s no denying that crabs are rapidly becoming popular as one of the most sought-after seafood worldwide.
Roasted, grilled, or steamed, crab is widely favored by seafood lovers all over the globe.
What’s more, while once known as a rare delicacy, crabs have now become an affordable seafood staple.
But the question here is – what does crab taste like?
If you are someone who hasn’t tasted crab before and wondering what it tastes like, now’s the time to find out.
In this article, we will talk about everything you need to know about Crab — taste, varieties, nutritional profile, and more on how to eat crab!
What is crab and crab meat?
Crabs are usually marine creatures (some species live on the land, too, so yeah! it's not entirely seafood). Characterized by their pincers, these marine creatures are found in all the oceans across the world.
Not only oceans, but some species also dwell in freshwater. The sea creature belongs to the Crustaceans, animals with outer shells and segmented bodies.
The outer shell protects the delicate bodies of these sea creatures, and the pincers help them get their prey. Crabs use their pincers to immobilize their prey and rip them apart to get inside the mouth.
Crab meat is the part of the crabs body that can be eaten. The meat can come from the body of the crab, claws, and legs. The crabs can be sold live, frozen, or even canned meat.
This tasty seafood is used for many different dishes like crab cakes, crab salad, and seafood boil.
Before moving to the taste profile of crab meat, let's look at the various types of crabs people eat worldwide:
What does crab taste like?
Crab has a flavor profile somewhere between shrimp and lobster. You will not find the fishy smell that you find in shrimp and the crab meat tastes sweet like the lobster meat (though lobsters are sweeter).
The sweet taste of crab meat is not something you should expect from a fruit, but a hint of sweetness that is typical to mineral-induced meat only.
Crabmeat, usually called white meat, has a flaky texture that needs specialized cooking techniques to master. Just like other crustaceans, crab meat too can be easily overcooked and get chewy.
Crabmeat has an interesting cooking quality. It adjusts to almost any spice you add to your dish because the meat's flavor isn't overpowering or too fishy. So, you can experiment with flavoring the meat as per your choice.
The real crab meat is extracted by boiling the live sea animal and then taking out the meat. By cooking the live crustacean, you ensure that it doesn't get the bitterness when dead.
To get the clean, sweet flavor of crab meat, it is important to cook it fresh. Although you can find frozen crab meat in the supermarkets, do not expect it to be as delicious as fresh crab meat because the ice somewhat crystallizes the delicate crab meat ruining its flaky texture.
Another variant you can find in the market is imitation crab meat which tastes similar to real crab meat. However, it is only a form of highly processed white fish with other ingredients that imitate the real crab meat flavors.
Varieties of crab
Although there are hundreds of species of crabs in the world, only a few are commercially caught and eaten. Those species, not all crab species are popular in the United States.
The most popular US crab species include:
These crabs are native to the Northern Atlantic Ocean and the Mexican waters. However, they are commercially supplied internationally.
The blue crabs are widely caught in the US coastal regions of Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Numerous fisheries catch and supply blue crab commercially in these regions.
A striking characteristic of these crabs is their change of color after cooking. When they are alive, they have a blue hue to their shells, but on heating, a compound breaks down in their bodies, imparting a bright orange-red color.
Dungeness Crab gets its name from the port from where it is commercially supplied. This variety of crab is found on the West Coast of the North American waters.
The Dungeness crab's meat is treated as a delicacy in the regions of British Columbia, the Pacific Northwest, and California. The meat is known for its sweet flavor and the cooking techniques used to bring out the flavors.
There are two primary cooking methods for Dungeness crab—boiling live crab in salted water and half-backing.
The boiling method involves directly putting the alive crab in salted boiling water, while half-backing involves cracking the shell and scooping the guts out first, then cooking.
The locals believe half-backing to be a supreme cooking method since the guts do not contaminate the meat in this method.
These crabs are usually the most expensive due to their high meat content and delicious sweet flavor.
Used for dishes like sushi or popular King Crab legs.
Florida Stone Crab
Florida Stone crabs are another American crab species found in the North American waters.
These crabs aren't harvested for their whole bodies; instead, they are only harvested for their claws. Once the claws are removed from their bodies, the crabbers release them into the water.
The reasons for harvesting these crabs only for their claws are the sweet flavor of their meat and their ability to regenerate those claws.
However, these crabs have a government-regulated harvesting period. The crabbers can only catch them from 15th October to 15th May to preserve the species.
Rock crabs are smaller than some of their counterparts like dungeness crab. They are popular with home chefs because they are typically inexpensive.
Nutritional benefits of crab
Like other seafood, crab is a lean meat with minimum fat and no sugars. A hundred gram serving of crab meat supplies 97 calories and 19.35 grams of protein.
Crabmeat is an excellent source of vitamin B12. You can fulfill 479% of the daily vitamin B12 requirement of your body by having 100 grams of crab meat.
Besides vitamin B12, crab meat is also rich in iron and Vitamin C, making it a nutritious food choice.
Additionally, crab meat is a great source of Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help our bodies fight against inflammation and maintain our heart health.
On the other hand, vitamin B12 has a vital role in DNA building and cellular energy production. Furthermore, this vitamin helps in improving cognitive abilities by taking part in the breakdown of a compound known as Homocysteine.
Vitamin C from the crab meat can help maintain skin health and prevents iron deficiency through active absorption of iron in the body.
In short, crab meat is packed with nutritious compounds, and its lean protein is what most weight-conscious people can easily adopt.
Ways to cook crab
The mild, sweet flavor of crab meat can be spruced up by cooking it the right way. The most common cooking method is boiling, through which the cooks achieve a tender, juicy, full of flavor final result.
However, you can also bake, steam, or grill crab meat as other seafood options.
Here are some more details on the crab cooking methods:
To boil crab, fill a large pot of salted water(salt it generously) and keep it boiling. When the water starts bubbling, add the live crabs to the pot and wait for them to start floating on the water surface.
Once you come to this stage, remove the crabs from the pot and then crack the shell to remove the guts to get clean crab meat.
For steaming, take an inch high water level in a pot and keep it on your stovetop. Now, place the crabs piled on a steaming rack and cover the pot until you see steam coming out.
Use the same cleaning technique as in the boiling process.
Grilled crab and crab legs is a delicious way to cook this seafood. Direct grilling the crab will leave it uncleaned, so either steam or boil the crab and then grill it with the spices of your choice.
Ensure not to grill for too long to avoid making the crab meat chewy. A little char on the meat is enough.
Like grilling, roasting too should be followed by steaming or boiling. After the first step, prepare an oven-safe dish and season your cleaned, steamed crab.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit for ten minutes, and then roast your crab in it for about ten minutes.
Does crab taste like lobster?
While both of these creatures can be found in the same region of the world, they do taste different.
Crab meat taste can often be described as mild and sweet in flavor while lobster taste is not as sweet.
The meat texture also varies. Lobster meat is considered to be more tender than dense crab meat.
- Crabs are decapods meaning they have ten legs which they can use to walk in any direction.
- Although normal species of crab measure a few centimeters, the largest Japanese Spider Crab can measure up to thirteen feet.
- Crabs are nasty predators; they can prey on their own brethren.
- Not all crabs are true crabs; some sea animals can evolve and become crabs.
- A female red crab can lay up to 100,000 eggs at a time and scatter them in the whole ocean.
Crabmeat tastes sweet and mild without the fishy smell you get in shrimps. With an excellent nutritional profile and versatile cooking methods, these flaky-meat crustaceans can become an essential part of everyone's diet.
So, incorporate crab meat in a crab cake or make a sandwich dressing with your crab claw meat, the choice is yours to enjoy the sweet crab meat