Various Types of Crabs Served in Japan
In Japan, crabs are nationally loved as a fine culinary ingredient. Since Japan is surrounded by seas on all sides, the nation enjoys an abundance of crab varieties, including the Zuwai-gani snow crab, the Taraba-gani king crab, and the Ke-gani horsehair crab.
Among them, a particularly popular variety is the Zuwai-gani snow crab. Characterized by a form that is slimmer than the other crabs, the Zuwai-gani snow crab is loaded with concentrated “umami” (savory taste) that crab-lovers crave, and appeals to the palate with a distinctly sweet flavor note. The Zuwai-gani snow crab dwells primarily on the west coast of Japan, in the Sea of Japan (as far north as Hokkaido, and as far south as Tottori Prefecture), where fishing season for the snow crab opens around November, and harvesting continues until around March of the following year. In some regions of Japan, the Zuwai-gani snow crab is referred to by a name that signifies the local place of origin, such as “Matsuba-gani” and “Echizen-gani”, and some of these local varieties are recognized as luxury seafood brands.
No-Sweat Tips That Make Eating Crab Easy
Have a pair of kitchen shears ready. Starting from the main body of the crab, sever the legs. Then, cut the legs into sections at the joints, insert the shears into the shell, and peel off the meat. Although removing the meat from the crab can be cumbersome, there are very convenient tools for this in Japan.
One way to further simplify cutting crabs, is to scoop out the meat from the legs with a spoon & fork crab utensil, a tool specifically designed for this purpose. A peeler and a crab cracker for cracking the shell, are also convenient to have handy.
Crab Cuisine Dining Spots
All over Japan, there are a vast number of sushi restaurants and Washoku (traditional Japanese cuisine) dining establishments that serve crab cuisine, including those near fish markets and fishing grounds. One such example is the “Kani Doraku” franchise, whose restaurants offer a wide selection of crab dishes served in an interior that provides traditional Japanese ambience. “Kani Doraku”‘s restaurants can be easily spotted by their signboards featuring a giant crab. There are many other establishments that serve crab cuisine, too many to list here. All we can say is, if visiting Japan during the winter, it is highly recommended to try a Zuwai-gani snow crab dish at least once.