Spider Crabs: Can You Eat & How to Catch

Spider Crabs: Can You Eat & How to Catch

Yes, spider crabs are edible and consumed in various cuisines around the world. The meat of spider crabs is considered to be flavorful and tender, particularly the flesh found in the legs and claws. The flavor is sweet and delicate.

Spider crabs have a distinctive appearance, with a round or oval-shaped body covered by a hard exoskeleton or carapace. Their long, thin legs are jointed and have numerous spines or hooks.

The legs extend outward from the sides of the body, resembling the shape of a spider, which gives them their name. Spider crabs have two large claws or chelipeds used for feeding and defense.

Can You Eat Spider Crabs?

Yes, you can eat spider crabs. Spider crabs are commonly used in dishes such as crab cakes, crab bisques, crab salads, and stir-fries. They can be boiled, steamed, grilled, or sautéed, depending on personal preference and the desired culinary preparation. The meat is typically removed from the shell before cooking or served as a whole crab leg or crab claw.

It’s worth noting that spider crabs have a relatively lower meat-to-shell ratio compared to some other crab species, so it may require more effort to extract the meat. However, many people enjoy the unique taste and texture of spider crab meat, making it a sought-after delicacy in certain regions.

What is the Largest Spider Crab?

Overall, the Japanese spider crab is the largest known species of spider crab in terms of leg span and is a fascinating creature due to its impressive size.

Do You Eat Japanese Spider Crabs?

In Japan, the Japanese spider crab is considered a delicacy and is often featured in seafood cuisine. The meat of the giant Japanese spider crab is highly prized for its sweet and delicate flavor.

It is commonly steamed or boiled and served with soy sauce or other dipping sauces. The large claws of the spider crab contain a significant amount of meat, which is particularly sought after.

Japanese spider crab
Japanese spider crab

What Do Spider Crabs Taste Like?

The taste of spider crab meat can vary slightly depending on factors such as the crab’s diet, habitat, and cooking method. However, spider crab meat is often described as having a sweet and delicate flavor.

Is Spider Crab Expensive?

Overall, due to its rarity, size, and demand, spider crab, especially the Japanese spider crab, is more expensive compared to other types of crabs.

It’s worth noting that the cost of spider crab can vary depending on factors such as the location, seasonality, and availability. Prices may also differ depending on whether the spider crabs are imported or locally sourced.

Additionally, the cost can also be influenced by factors such as fishing regulations, sustainability practices, and the cost of transportation.

Red spider crab
Red spider crab

Where are Spider Crabs Found?

Spider crabs are found in various parts of the world, predominantly in coastal and oceanic waters. They tend to inhabit rocky areas, seabed habitats, and coastal regions with suitable conditions for their survival and feeding.

Here are some notable regions where spider crabs can be found:

  1. Japan: The Japanese spider crab is native to the waters around Japan, particularly the Pacific Ocean along the Japanese coast. This species is known for its impressive size and is often associated with Japanese cuisine.
  2. North Atlantic Ocean: Different species of spider crabs live in the North Atlantic Ocean, including regions such as the northeastern United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. The European spider crab and the American spider crab are examples of spider crab species found in these areas.
  3. Mediterranean Sea: The Mediterranean spider crab is found in the Mediterranean Sea and along the coastlines of countries such as Spain, France, Italy, and Greece.
  4. Australia: The southern waters of Australia are home to several species of spider crabs, including the giant spider crab and the decorator crab. These crabs can be found along the southern coastline and in Tasmania.
  5. New Zealand: Spider crabs, particularly the paddle crab, are found in the coastal waters of New Zealand. They are commonly caught for both commercial and recreational purposes.

How to Catch Spider Crabs?

Here are some common methods used to catch spider crabs:

  1. Crab Traps/Pots: Bait, such as fish heads, chicken parts, or other smelly substances, is placed inside the trap to attract the crabs. The traps are then set in suitable crabbing areas, such as rocky or sandy bottoms near the coast, and left for a period of time before being retrieved.
  2. Hand-held Nets: Hand-held nets, such as dip nets or scoop nets, can be used to catch spider crabs in shallow water or tidal areas.
  3. Hand-Lining: Attach bait, such as fish or squid, to the hook, then lower it into the water near rocks, pilings, or other structures where crabs may be hiding. 
  4. Crabbing with Fishing Rods: Similar to hand-lining, you cast the baited hook into the water and wait for a crab to bite. Once a crab is hooked, gently reel it in.

Before attempting to catch spider crabs, it’s important to check local regulations and obtain the necessary licenses or permits if required.

Can You Eat Spider Crabs in Florida?

The most commonly encountered spider crab species in Florida are the Gulf stone crab and blue crab.

To ensure accurate and up-to-date information regarding the consumption of spider crabs in Florida, it’s best to consult the FWC website or contact the local wildlife authorities for the most reliable and current regulations.

What is the Best Way to Cook Spider Crabs?

Boiling spider crabs is a straightforward cooking method I personally recommend. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, seasoned with salt and optional aromatics like bay leaves or herbs.

Carefully place the live or freshly caught spider crabs into the boiling water and cook them for 15 to 20 minutes or until the shells turn red and the meat is fully cooked. Drain the crabs and serve them hot with your desired accompaniments.

Spider Crab Recipes

To Sum Up

Spider crabs are a group of crustaceans known for their distinctive appearance and long, spindly legs.

Spider crabs are highly regarded for their sweet and delicate white meat, especially in Japanese cuisine. The meat is often described as tender and flavorful, with a slightly nutty or sweet taste. It is commonly used in a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, salads, sushi, sashimi, tempura, and grilled preparations.

It’s important to handle them with care, as their long and spiky legs can be sharp. The crabs are usually cooked by steaming, boiling, grilling, or other preferred cooking methods to ensure the meat is fully cooked and safe to consume.

Atlantic Sand Crab: Can You Eat & How to Catch

More To Explore