I’ll be the first to admit, crab actually looks a bit scary. Why someone ever got the idea to eat a giant sea-spider-looking animal, I’ll never know. But, I don’t really care, because I’m so glad they did! This strange, exoskeletal delicacy is one of the tastiest foods out there. Any seafood bake would be sadly incomplete without some sort of crab being included.
Of course, their weird look is only the first reason why someone may not eat crab. Many people in the United States shy away from seafood in general, with about half of the population eating little to no seafood at all. The smell and sight of seafood may be quite offputting for many people, especially if they didn’t grow up eating it. And like other types of seafood that look a bit strange compared to the more familiar pieces of ham, chicken, or steak, crab can also have the same strange look (obviously) as well as a strong fishy smell.
While crab may have a strong smell, the taste isn’t as fishy as many other water-dwelling animals. So, what does crab taste like? It has a salty, buttery, and slightly sweet taste with a hint of a seafood taste – but in a great way, not overpowering or fishy. This is why you should definitely eat crab if you’ve never eaten it before!
What Does Crab Taste Like?
In short, the taste of crab is a mixture of slightly sweet and salty fireworks going off on your tastebuds with a hint of buttery and seafood taste on the side.
But there is in fact a bit more to it than just that. That description is a bit more of a baseline as the taste and texture of crab will
Depending on the type of crab, the part of the crab, and how it’s cooked, or the seasonings that it’s cooked with.
While there are over 4,500 species of crab that are found all over the world, only a few of them are widely eaten. These are Blue Crab, Dungeness Crab, Snow Crab, and King Crab. Each of them is unique in its shape and flavor profile.
Blue crabs are found across the Mid-Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, with crabs from the Chesapeake Bay being the most prized. These crabs, the smallest of the four main types of crab, may grow up to 10 inches in length, and their size indicates their worth. #1’s, or Jumbos, are the biggest at 6+inches, with #2’s coming close and #3’s ranging from 4.5-5 inches, the smallest size legally caught.
The length of their shell determines their size (not a combination of legs and shell). These small culinary giants are famous for their flavor, which is a blend of sweet and salty, with the body meat being the most sought for.
Dungeness crabs are named after a small fishing community in Washington state – Dungeness. They are generally quite big, as they can grow to be 10+ inches in size and weigh over two pounds. Their meat is sweet, sensitive, and delicate, making it a West Coast delicacy, particularly during the peak season, which runs from November to the end of June.
As you can probably guess from the name, Snow crabs may be found in the very cold waters of the Pacific Northwest and North West Atlantic, Alaska to Siberia, and Greenland to Newfoundland. Crab season usually begins when the ice cracks (around mid April running til early November). Snow crabs are largely legs, with small, spherical bodies weighing between two and four pounds. Males are often double the size of females and are more likely to wind up on our plates. Snow crabs are typically offered in clusters, as this crab has already been spilt and cleaned. Snow crab flesh is substantial and salty, and it’s ideal for dipping in melted butter.
If you’ve ever watched Deadliest Catch, you have certainly heard of King crab before. King crabs are the most economically important shellfish species in Alaska, providing not only a livelihood for numerous watermen and crabbers but also a significant cash source for the state. King crabs are classified according to geography and species, with three sorts of crabs-red, blue, and brown-and whether they are taken in the Bering Sea or other Atlantic Alaskan seas. They are nicknamed “kings” for a reason; they weigh between 6 and 8 pounds (some as much as 20 pounds), their bodies are 11 inches long on average, and their leg spread is about 5 feet!! King crab flesh has a gentle taste with a lovely sweetness, and their legs are legendary.
What’s the Texture of Crab Like?
While crab meat does look like other white meat often times, it’s not as firm and has a noticeably more flaky appearance. And once you bite into it or pull it apart you’ll notice this quickly. The texture of crab meat is quite delicate and flaky. But the texture can also be a bit firm, depending on how it’s cooked. When preparing King crab for example, after it’s been boiled, it’s quickly dunked into an ice water bath. This make the meat firmer, making it much easier to cut and prepare, which is something to keep in mind if you plan on cooking King crab.
Some other types of meat that have a somewhat similar texture are lobster, crayfish, crawfish and shrimp. However, crab meat is softer and more delicate than the other water-dwelling animals.
You can also buy crab meat by itself so you don’t have to worry about all of the shells. And there are different types of meat that each have different textures as well. For example, when it comes to brown crab that’s often found in Europe, there are two types of meat that you can buy: white meat or brown meat. The white meat is from the claws, and it’s predominantly white in color (surprise) and it has a naturally flaky texture. It’s great to be used in sandwiches or also pastas, risottos, or salads.
The other type of brown crab meat is brown meat, which comes from the body of the crab. It has a higher natural fat content and the texture is closer to that of pâte. But the texture of the meat can vary depending on the time of the year that it’s harvested as the physiology of the crab changes.
The difference in texture between the body of the crab versus the claws is generally true for many of the different typesof crab. While both types of meat are equally delicious, you will usually find that the body meat is more flaky and the claw meat isn’t quite as flaky and a bit more dense.
What Does Crab Smell Like?
For the most part, crab shoudn’t have such a strong smell. If the crab hasn’t gone bad in one way or another, then it should have only a faint “bay” smell, or something that reminds you of the ocean, or evena slightly swee smell, but either one shouldn’t be over powering. You will most likely notice the smell of crab when it’s gone bad, however. This is because it will emit a very strong ammonia smell.
If you do a quick google search, you’ll will find no shortage of people asking about crab with an ammonia smell. To save you the search – it’s because it’s gone bad. And this can be for one of a few reasons.
It was an old crab
Older crabs contain less flesh and have a strong odor. Living longer exposes the crab to pollutants and other wastes for a longer length of time, giving the crab an ammonia aroma.
It doesn’t necessarily imply that the crab has gone bad, but it isn’t the greatest grade flesh available.
The crab died before it was cooked
Every crabber or fishmonger should know to only sell live crab, but you also should avoid cooking crabs that are dead. Crabs that die after being caught have a nasty reputation of fast becoming bad owing to germs swiftly spreading through the already unclean crab.
This would lead the crab to “go bad,” resulting in a rotting ammonia odor that would spoil a tasty crab feast. However, if they’re kept at very cold temperatures then they should still be safe to cook and eat.
The crab was kept in a dirty tank
No matter the seafood, a dirty tank is bad news. And crabs in particular are somewhat filthy creatures and they will not be edible if they are kept in their own filth for an extended amount of time.
Crabs urinate primarily ammonia and other wastes via their attenal gland system, therefore a swarm of crabs kept in a filthy tank for an extended length of time is certain to smell like ammonia.
So, while an ammonia smell doesn’t necessarily mean that the crab has gone bad, after looking at a few of the reasons for the smell, it doesn’t seem too appetizing to say the least.
Nutritional Profile of Crab
Like many other types of seafood, crabs are also very healthy and are a key part of a balanced, nutritious diet.
Crab contains a variety of important nutrients, minerals, and lipids that the human body needs for optimal operation. It is a fantastic addition to your diet since it contains vitamin B, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids. When you eat crab, you can get even additional health benefits. Some of the benefits include promoting bone and heart health, reducing inflammation, and improving your immune system.
What Tastes Similar to Crab?
Some of the closest tasting foods to crab (that isn’t imitation crab) are probably shrimp, crayfish, or lobster. However, both the texture and taste of crab are unique. It has a slightly sweeter, and less salty taste than the others. Additionally, the meat is slightly less firm as well.
Best Recipes for Crab
One of the best ways to enjoy crab, particularly King crab is first boiling with salt and spices and then eating it after you dip each bite in butter. But some other super tasty crab recipes include:
- Singaporean chili crab
- Maryland style crab cake
- Virginia crab imperial
What Does Imitation Crab Taste Like?
Imitation crab meat only barely tastes like real crab meat. The texture is perhaps the only thing that is similar at all. It lacks the natural sweetness and saltiness of real crab. It also goes through much more processing.
Because it contains MSG (monosodium glutamate) and sugar, imitation crab has more sodium than other seafood items. This aids in the imitation of various tastes such as sweet and salty.
Many people believe that imitation crab is a good replacement for fresh crab meat since it is simpler to get and less expensive. It also includes preservatives, which let them survive longer on shop shelves and prevent them from spoiling readily. So