Snow Crabs: Japan’s Winter Delicacy

Tis The Season for Japan’s Tastiest Crab

Japan’s love of crab is unlike anywhere else in the world. Crab is Japan’s winter seafood and its consumption is one of the world’s highest. The snow crab is the most familiar to the Japanese though there are many different types and that’s because its flesh is delicately sweet and uniquely flavored. Though expensive, it is widely loved in Japan.

Snow Crabs

Snow crabs are crustaceans with a flat body and five pairs of spider-like legs, the front pair being claws. As they grow, the hard outer shell is periodically shed in molting, after which they have a soft-shell for a period of time and are called soft-shell crab or white crab.

Snow crabs are found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. In the North Atlantic, they are found from Greenland in the northeast Atlantic and from southern Labrador to the Gulf of Maine in the northwest Atlantic. They prefer deep, cold-water conditions. Canada is the world’s largest producer of snow crab, exporting two-thirds of the global supply to the US, China and Japan. In Japan, though, snow crabs are also abundant.

The snow crab is found in the deepest and coldest waters in the Sea of Japan. Fishing for snow crab is allowed only for 4 months in a year. Fishing male crab is permitted for the period from November 6 to March 20, while female crab only from November 6 to January 10. Bigger in size, male snow crab is widely traded all around Japan, smaller female snow crab is locally enjoyed. Some people prefer female crab meat because of its richer and more concentration of flavour with variety of textures, meat and egg.

A particularly popular variety is the Zuwai-gani snow crab. 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. This 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. In some regions of Japan, the Zuwai-gani snow crab is referred to by its local place of origin, such as “Matsuba-gani” and “Echizen-gani”. Some of these local varieties are recognized as luxury seafood brands.

Loving Snow Crab Sashimi in Lynnwood

Experience why the Japanese so love their snow crab. We serve delicious snow crab meat at Wild Wasabi. Be one of our many crab lovers enjoying Zuwai Snow Crab nigiri and sashimi. Also try our delicious Snow Crab soup.