Are Japanese Spider Crabs Edible? Know All The Facts

Imagine a situation where you are at a seafood restaurant and exploring all their options to decide on which you are gonna taste.

At one point, you saw a crab that looked like a spider!!

Maybe you will try to run towards your mom just like you did at your young age after seeing a spider in your room!!

No!! No!! Don’t be afraid cause this creepy-looking creature is not going to chase you. In fact, they are on the menu to make your tummy happy.

And their name is Japanese spider crab.

Now you may be curious to know: Are Japanese Spider crabs edible?

As a Japanese person, I have been asked this question many times because whoever saw this crab for the first time gets confused about whether to eat it or not.

Well, the answer is, “YES.” You can eat Japanese spider crabs. In fact, the meat is highly delicious and sweeter than other crabs, and the taste will make you crave for more.

Japanese spider crab

Okay, now let’s know about these crabs in detail.

All About Japanese Spider Crabs

Japanese Spider crabs are one of the largest crustaceans on the earth. They are also well-known as “Macrocheira kaempferi,” or takaashigani in Japanese, which translates to “long-legged crab.”

These are a species of marine crab and live in the Pacific Ocean around Japan.

Japanese spider crab under ocean

Because of their extremely long legs, they look like giant spiders.

But, don’t worry. They are not going to haunt you down!!

Even though their looks are kinda scary, the Japanese spider crabs are gentle creatures.

Since they don’t have a backbone, these crabs are characterized as arthropods. Also, they have the largest leg span, which is 3.7 m from claw-to-claw.

long claw and leg of japanese spider crab

One interesting fact about them is that they can lay up to 1.5 million eggs per season. Also, they have the longest lifespan among the crab species, which is around 100 years.

We, Japanese people, like the meat of these giant crabs a lot because of the sweetness. And it is considered to be a renowned delicacy in Japan.

japanese crab dish

Another fact about which many people have questions is whether these Japanese spider crabs can live on land or not.

Well, just like the other fish, these crabs will only survive out of the water for a significant amount of time. And their mobility in the air will be weakened without the water.

Spider crab out of the water

Alright, even though I have said that these crabs are edible, you may wonder whether they are safe to eat or not.

To know the detailed answer, go through my next segment.

Are Japanese Spider Crabs Safe to Eat?

Yes, they are totally safe to eat. And, there is nothing to be concerned about.

Although I have seen many people saying that spider crabs are poisonous, this is just a superstition.

So, you can eat them without having any concerns. Even there are some benefits of eating them.

Benefits of Eating Japanese Spider Crab

These crabs contain a lot of nutrients that are remarkably beneficial for your body. They are rich in proteins, omega 3 fatty acids, selenium, riboflavin, copper, and phosphorus.

Let’s know the values of these nutrients one by one.

1. Proteins

Proteins play an important role in healthy skin, muscles, hair, nails, etc. They are helpful in terms of the growth and development of your organs and their proper functioning.

And there is a good source of dietary protein in the meat of Japanese spider crab. Even you can easily digest them as they lack connective tissues.

crab meat rich in protein

Moreover, they contain less saturated fat compared to regular meat. Therefore, if you eat them, there is hardly any chance of having heart problems from them.

2. Omega 3 fatty acids

Japanese Spider crabs have an abundant amount of omega 3 fatty acids, just like most seafood. They are essential in maintaining cell membranes.

Also, this nutrition helps in various body functions like improving heart rate, mental health, managing weight, reducing liver fat, fighting inflammation, and so on.

crab meat rich in omega 3 fatty acids

Above that, they help with brain development, especially in children.

3. Selenium

This mineral is necessary for a healthy body. It assures that your metabolism is working properly and the thyroid level of your body is balanced.

Also, it helps in slowing down or preventing mental health issues due to aging.

fresh crab meat good for immunity

The levels of selenium in your body have an impact on DNA synthesis and immunity. Hence, it is important for your overall well-being.

If you lack selenium, it may lead to infertility, fatigue, muscle weakness, etc.

4. Riboflavin

Riboflavin is also renowned as Vitamin B2. It is necessary for having healthy eyes, liver, skin, hair, etc. Even they help with the functional operation of the nervous system.

You may not know that it is highly essential to eat food rich in Vitamin B2 because they are soluble and not stored in the body.

Additionally, if you are an athletic person, then spider crab food can be beneficial for you too in many ways.

5. Copper & Phosphorus

Crabmeat has more copper than salmon, cod, chicken, and beef. It helps with the formation of collagen, energy production, absorption of iron, cell growth, and proper functioning of the brain.

If you consume 100 gm of crab meat, it will fill about 62% of the daily recommended nutrition value.

spider crab meat for consuming

Now that you learn the benefits of eating these crabs, are you willing to make yourself one?

If yes, then the next section is for you.

Instruction on Preparing A Giant Japanese Spider Crab with Recipe

First, let me tell you that cooking a Japanese Spider crab is kinda physically tiresome.

Ohh, no!! It seems like my words are making you feel worried. Well, you don’t have to accomplish something impossible to prepare them.

And for your kind information, the Japanese spider crab’s meal can range between $100 to $500, according to the size. 

So, cooking them yourself can save some pennies.

Okay, as you may guess, first you need to buy the crab.

After buying, you may leave it in the fridge for a few hours so that it dies. Another way is to place it on its back and cut through straight with a sharp knife. It will make sure of its swift demise.

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Now, follow the instructions below to prepare a boiled Japanese spider crab.

  1. When the crab is dead, the first step is to put it in a large pot and steam it with boiling water. Then cover it with a lid. As these crabs have enormous sizes with big legs, you will need a big pot for steaming.
  2. The crab should be placed over the boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes per kilo. You can adjust the time according to their weight and the number of crabs.
  3. After it is cooked perfectly, you need to remove the gray spongy gills and the stomach sac, which are found right behind the jaw.
  4. Then rinse it properly to remove any excess protein and break off the legs. To make the procedure a bit easier, you can use a rolling pin or hammer to crack the legs.
  5. Now separate the meats and place them in a dish.
  6. Apart from the legs, the body part also contains flavourful meat, which is relatively sweeter than the rest of the crab’s meat. So, you need to set apart the body and shell to scrape down the meat. But, make sure to get rid of the pointed gills from the middle of its body.

Okay, since Japanese spider crab has both white and brown meat, you may either mix them together or place them separately according to your preference.

You can enjoy the delicious meat by dipping it in soy sauce or cheese. The moment you put a piece in your mouth, the blast of flavor will leave you in awe.

Alright, it’s time to come out from the imagination cause I have another spoon-licking recipe, which is baked Japanese spider crab.

For preparing it, you will need the below ingredients.

  • 1.5 kg cooked spider crab. (Already mentioned how to cook above).
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
  • 2 shallots or onions, finely chopped.
  • 1 large spring onion, finely sliced.
  • 1 leek, only the white part finely diced.
  • 2 large tomatoes (peeled and deseeded).
  • 150 ml tomato sauce.
  • 1 ladle stock (the water in which the crab was boiled).
  • Your favorite liquor.
  • Breadcrumbs.
  • 1 tablespoon of flat-leaf parsley.
  • Few knobs of butter.
  • Salt as per taste.
Ingredients for baked spider crab

Steps:

1. Separate the brown meat from the shell and white meat from the claws & legs and put them in a bowl. Make sure there are no hard particles in the meat. You may keep the shell for later use, like serving sauce.

2. Now, take a medium-sized pan and heat oil and butter. Gradually add the onions, leek, tomato, liquor, and slow-cook for about 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Wet the sauce with the stock. Then add crab meat and cook for a couple of minutes. Don’t forget to stir well. And make sure this mixture doesn’t become too liquid or too dry. Add salt if needed.

4. When the filling is ready, pour it into the crab shell. Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs and place a few knobs of butter on the above.

5. Place the shell in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius and bake for 6 to 12 minutes or until the breadcrumbs turn golden brown.

6. Remove it from the oven, sprinkle parsley, and serve immediately.

Anyway, besides the mentioned recipe, Japanese spider crab can be turned into different delicacies like crab cakes, crab rolls, spider crab creamy pasta, crab ravioli, and so on. So, you may try them out too.

different dish made with crab meat

As we are done with the preparation segment, it’s time to know if there is an etiquette for eating these crabs.

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How to Eat Spider Crab?

Most people enjoy eating crabs with their hands. For example, crack the claw, pull out the meat from inside, dip in the sauce, and then eat. Even I myself like to eat them using my finger.

eating crab with hand

However, some people find it troublesome. And if you are the same, then you may use tools like small knives, pliers, metal kebab skewers, and other crab-picking equipment.

Anyway, besides the Japanese ones, there are some other species of spider crab that are edible.

In case you don’t mix up things, I will mention their name now. So, take a look below.

Species of Spider Crab for Eating

There are many species of spider crabs that are delicious and great for eating, such as:

  1. Portly Spider Crab.
  2. European Spider Crab.
  3. Giant Spider Crab.
  4. And, of course, Japanese Spider Crab.

As you already have an idea about Japanese spider crabs, I will now describe the other three species.

1. Portly Spider Crab/ Common Spider Crab

These types of crabs are found on the North American Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia to Florida. Also, you will find them in the bay of Mexico.

Their body is around 4 inches, and the legs are up to 12 inches long.

Although people debate on whether these are good for eating or not, be informed that they are neither poisonous nor harmful to eat.

Common spider crab or portly spider crab

However, as these are scavengers, they taste like what they eat. And some people said that the ones from Florida taste better than the ones found around New York and New Jersey.

2. European Spider Crab

The European Spider Crab is also known as the common spider crab or the spiny spider crab. They live on the eastern coastlines of the Atlantic Ocean.

European spider crab

Another variation of this species is found in the Mediterranean sea, around North Africa, and as far north as the North Sea.

3. Giant Spider Crab

The Giant Spider Crab is usually found in Port Phillip Bay, Australia. And, it is legal to catch up to 15 of these crabs each day.

Although I didn’t taste them in person, people who have eaten them said that these crabs’ have less meat and a muddy flavor.

Giant spider crab

Hence, they are not as delicious as the European ones. Still, they are safe to eat.

Okay, I have nothing to inform you regarding today’s topic. So, let’s move to the conclusion.

Conclusion

In this writing, first, I gave you a straight answer to the question: are Japanese spider crabs edible? Also, I have included their beneficial side and some recipes to try at your home.

Hopefully, you will taste them either in a restaurant or at least at home cause I don’t want you to miss something delicious like them.

Even though these crabs are kinda expensive, trust me, they are worth trying.

Frequently Asked Question:

No, there is nothing to be feared as they can’t kill a human.

Their long legs are only capable of killing small sea creatures, and they use the claws to open mussels and shells.