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A question for the seafood afficianados...

Iron Chef

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26 Feb 2003
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So i'm curious... throughout my travels I have had the good fortune of trying many different varieties of crab (Blue, Stone, Dungeness, Rock, etc.). While in Japan I remember having had both Kegani (Hairy crab) and Japanese King crab on numerous occasions but I was wondering what other types are there that may be unique or predominant to Japan (i'm pretty sure there were others unless i'm mistaken)? Thanks in advance.
 
Never Say You've Had Crabs !!

While stationed in Adak, Alaska I was lucky enough to have King Crab a lot. Being from Maine, I thought nothing could beat lobster, but fresh crab was better! I assume the King Crab in Japan is the same as Alaska??
I was stunned at how big they grow and how hard the fishing fleet worked to catch them. Every year they lost boats and men in bad storms!

Frank
 
That's a very interesting link, thanks for posting it. I couldn't agree with you more Frank, King crab is absolutely delicious!
:)
 
I don't know so much about the varieties, but around Kyoto I had a small, local type called Matsuba-gani that was INCREDIBLE. Best crab flavor I've ever tasted. Not just sweet but packed with richness too. I've never seen it anywhere else though.

When you buy them in the store you have to look for a special green tag -- that tag tells you the boat that it was brought in on (I guess you could go hunt down the captain if you're unsatisfied?). Highly recommended if you're ever around Kyoto, however I know there are a lot of other attractions there.
 
Interesting Kov, thanks for the heads-up. Can't say I have ever tried it myself but from your description it sounds delicious.
:)
 
there must be somewhere you can have freshwater crab.....but seems nowadays those are imported from Shanghaied..... and there is a risk, if you eat in raw, to get fluked....risk for special taste like fugus...ineresting
 
crab nomenclature

I think the reason you can get live king crabs or kegani in Tokyo pretty easily is because it's feasible to truck them in from Hokkaido. (Whereas Alaska is much further away from the rest of the U.S.)
I did see a king crab in a tank in Chinatown (New York) recently but otherwise I don't think I've seen live king crab (i.e. raw unfrozen king crab) in the U.S.

I think "matsuba gani" is one of several fancy "brand names" applied to snow crab (standard name: "zuwai gani").
"Echizen gani" is also snow crab, and the very small female snow crabs are sometimes sold as "seko/seiko gani". These females have something called "uchiko" inside (undevelped eggs or something?? <NSS>) with a very rich taste, fairly close to either sea urchin.
Unless you're an expert I don't think you can visually distinguish a permium snow crab from a mediocre-tasting one. I've had good snow crab that someone brought us from Quebec.

Though I have never had it, I've seen TV shows where freshwater crabs ("mokuzu gani" or "mozuku gani") are being caught and consumed locally. "mokuzu" refers to the tufts of algae on their claws.
The "Shanghai crab" is also a similar freshwater species that comes in from China August ~ September ish.
There are also the "sawagani" or creek crabs. You can catch these out in the suburbs, etc. I've not eaten these but I've seen them in restaurants and supermarkets deep-fried in oil ("kara-age" not tempura).

I have also wondered whether the "soft-shelled" concept could be extended to other crustaceans (i.e. soft-shell lobster, king crab, tiger shrimp, shako[mantis shrimp], etc.)
I saw Iron Chef Morimoto make "drunken shrimp" using spiny lobsters and throwing them in a whole keg of sake. That might be neat to try on a king crab as well.
 
Whoa, Kiyo you really know your stuff! So it sounds like in addition to names representing the different varieties of crabs, there are also names that just represent the quality level? Pretty complex. Is it possible that matsuba gani are really a different variety from snow crabs, there just isn't any name for them in English? I was cooking some fish that was labelled "flounder" at my local grocer, but my wife told me it was different from "hirame" -- hirame has eyes on one specific side, whereas the fish I was cooking apparently has eyes on the other. In english they're all flounder, but in Japanese there were specific names for each one.
 
Very informative, thanks for the heads-up Kiyo. Your comment "I did see a king crab in a tank in Chinatown (New York) recently but otherwise I don't think I've seen live king crab (i.e. raw unfrozen king crab) in the U.S." intrigues me... I would love to see a live King someday, that sounds like it would be quite an attraction considering how deep the waters are from which they come from.
:)
 
蟹満寺

An example of pagan ways of respecting food ingredients, which is ludicrous to proud atheists:

NHK news

Crab Memorial Held in Kyoto​

Moving on to the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto where fishermen and chefs paid their respects to the souls of crabs in a memorial service at a Buddhist temple.

People who work in crab restaurants or in the fishing industry all over Japan, come to Kanimanji temple each year to offer prayers of appreciation to the crabs that help them earn a living.

Legend has it that a young Buddhist woman rescued a crab, who in turn saved her from a snake.

After the service, live freshwater crabs were released into a nearby spring.
Links
 
Hi,

* I refer you to the page that has more crab pictures:
www.pref.aichi.jp/shokuhinkensa/z_sakana/20202211.html
It's Japanese but the pics are labeled "Zuwaigani" etc. in English.
You can verify there that the scientific name is _Chionoecetes opilio_ (it's misspelt "Cb~" on this page) and this you can see is "snow crab".

* On the flatfish controversy, in the NY area they pass off "fluke" (Paralichthys dentatus) as _hirame_ (Paralichthys olivaceus, "bastard halibut").
* As for how to distinguish a _hirame_ (fluke/halibut) from a _karei_ (flounder)
There is a saying "_hidari hirame ni migi karei_" which means that when you orient the fish "normally" (on its stomach and so the jaws are below its eyes) the eyes of the _hirame_ will be on the Left Hand Side of you.
HIRAME <--- Eyes Left _00==<
KAREI >==00_ Eyes right -->
Or at least I think that's correct.

* This rule is not ironclad, and some _karei_ break the right-eye rule.
Also although flounder is generally considered inferior fish,
there are rule-breaker _karei_ (I think hoshi garei etc.) to that as well.
 
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