Crab meat and its characteristics
Crab meat is a popular delicacy in many countries around the world, and is particularly prized for its delicate, sweet flavour and tender, flaky texture. It is typically eaten boiled or steamed to make the most of its delicate meat
There are several different varieties of edible crab, all of which have slightly different flavours. Each crab produces white meat, which is taken from the legs and claws, and brown meat, which is taken from the body. White meat is the most sought-after type of crab meat. It has the sweetest flavour and most delicate texture, and is particularly low in fat and high in protein. Brown meat has a fuller flavour and smooth, pâté like texture. It is higher in fat than white meat, including healthy fats like Omega-3.
Crab meat has a similar, seafood flavour to lobster, but there are ways to tell them apart. Crab is generally sweeter than lobster meat, while lobster meat is less flaky and holds together better. Lobster is generally more expensive than crab, but king crab legs can sometimes sell for more than a whole lobster, as they are full of sought-after white meat and typically contain more meat than whole lobsters, pound for pound.
Lobster meat and its characteristics
Lobster meat is tender, firm and succulent, with a slightly sweet seafood taste, and is usually considered to be a luxury food. Lobster meat is most commonly taken from the tail, claws, knuckles, legs or body, with the tails and claws containing the best and tenderest meat.
There are many different varieties of lobster, which can broadly be divided into cold water lobsters and warm water lobsters. Cold water lobsters have three prominent sets of claws, and are what most people would think of as a regular lobster. They are also known as ‘true lobsters’ or ‘clawed lobsters’, and are the most sought-after and expensive lobster species thanks to their sweet, rich briny flavour, and succulent claw meat. Warm water crabs lack front claws and are actually a type of large crayfish. They are also known as ‘rock lobsters’, ‘spiny lobsters’ or ‘false lobsters’, and are generally harvested for their tail meat.
Is the most numerous species found off the east coast of the U.S. It has a distinctive blue green colour whilst alive, but turns the a reddish brown when cooked. Blue crab meat has a salty-sweet flavour and plenty of meat can be found in the body as well as the claws and legs.
Is considered to be one of the most delicious types of crab, thanks to its sweet, moist and tender meat. It is a large crab with a purplish brown shell, and can be found all along the coast from Alaska to Baja in Mexico. It must be at least 6 ¼ inches long before it can legally be harvested, however, to prevent overfishing.
Is one of the largest known species of crab, and can measure a staggering 10 feet across, including its legs. It has a delicate, sweet flavour, and it’s meat is white with a red-tinged outer edge. Only around a quarter of a king crab is edible, primarily the legs and claws, but as these crabs are so large this still provides a substantial amount of tasty white meat.
Is a medium-sized variety of crab with a brown shell and purple spots. Also known as ‘bay crab’ or ‘Atlantic rock crab’, it was essentially a throwaway by-product of lobster fishing until the late 90s, when it began to be marketed under the name ‘peekytoe crabs’, a colloquialism from Maine that refers to their turned-in toes.
Rock crab or snow crab
Is commonly found in cold Alaskan waters. It has particularly long legs and is prized for its tasty white leg and claw meat. It is sometimes also known as a ‘spider crab’, due to its long, spindly legs.
Is mostly fished off the coast of Florida, and is prized for its large claws, which contain sweet, succulent meat with a firm texture, and should weigh at least 2 to 2.75 ounces. The claw is the only part of the crab that is eaten, and fishermen will remove one claw only from any crabs they catch, throwing the live crab back into the water with one claw remaining to defend itself. The missing claw should regenerate within around 18 months.
Is a cold water lobster, prized for its sweet briny flavour and succulent but firm texture. It has excellent claw and tail meat and is considered by many to be the best lobster available, with a price tag to match.
Is actually the same species (Homarus americanus) as a Maine lobster, but because it lives in much colder water, it has a harder shell, less sweetness and denser meat. Canadian lobsters are particularly prized for their claw meat.
French blue lobster or Breton lobster
Is a cold water lobster most associated with the French region of Brittany, but many are also caught off the coast of Scotland and Ireland. It has a deep blue colour while alive, which becomes bright red upon cooking. French blue meat has a particularly pronounced briny seafood flavour, and firm, succulent flesh.
Is a warm water species with a grey and brown striped shell with yellow spots. It is primarily caught in the warm waters off the Bahamas, and is prized for its delicately flavoured tail meat.
Is one of the largest warm water lobsters, and can be caught along the west coast from California to Mexico. As with all warm water lobsters, it is caught for its succulent tail meat, which has a delicate, creamy, nutty flavour.
South African lobster
Actually lives in cold water, but is more closely related to warm water species, and lacks the telltale front claws of cold water lobsters. It grows more slowly than other warm water varieties, and its muscular tail has a uniquely delicious flavour. Lobster fishing is strictly overseen by the South African government, and South African lobster has a reputation for being of particularly high quality.
Is a warm water species that produces 8 to 10 inch tails with a smooth, delicate, slightly fishy flavour and a firm texture. It is a particularly versatile lobster, suited to a variety of cooking methods.
New Zealand lobster
Is a warm water species caught in the deep waters of the South Pacific. It has a scarlet coloured shell, sweet, smooth meat, and is particularly popular in Asian seafood dishes.
Is caught off the coast of Tristan de Cunha in the South Atlantic. It has a sweet, clean-tasting flavour, and a unique, slightly flaky texture, thanks to its low fat content.
One cup of crab meat contains the following:
Of which fibre: 0g
Of which sugar: 0g
Crab is high in protein, which is important for building and maintaining muscle tissue, and also provides a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help boost heart health, and are thought to aid brain function. It is also rich in Vitamin B12 and folate, which can help prevent anaemia, as well as other important vitamins and minerals, including, iron, niacin, selenium and zinc.
One cup of lobster meat contains the following:
Of which fibre: 0g
Of which sugar: 0g
Like crab meat, lobster is a good source of protein, and it also provides a moderate amount of Omega-3 oils, with warm water lobsters typically containing more than cold water species. It is rich in several important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, calcium, iron, copper and selenium, and also provides some zinc, phosphorus, vitamin B12, magnesium, and vitamin E.
Try the taste of sweet, flaky crab meat for yourself with these delectable recipes.
An exclusive appetiser recipe, made with delicate crab and silky caviar, by chef Anna Haugh at Bob Bob Ricard restaurant.
This traditional Russian dish is given a molecular twist by chef Anatoly Komm.
These herby, lightly spiced fish cakes are served with a salad leaf garnish for a light, healthy lunch.
Great as an appetiser, or finger food at a buffet, this luxurious dip is ready in just a few minutes, and tastes great served with crackers or toast.
A dish of soft shell crab and young artichokes, fried in a simple batter, from Venice’s much-missed seafood restaurant, Vecio Fritalin.
If you want tips on preparing a crab, don’t miss our simple walkthrough of how to dress a crab in eight easy steps.
Try the succulent seafood flavour of lobster with these luxurious lobster recipes:
A light and refreshing appetiser from chef Maurizio Serra, served with a honey and beetroot sauce.
Another lobster salad appetiser, served with beetroot orange purée and confit vegetables, from chef Antimo Merone, of 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana.
An exclusive dish made from mezzi paccheri di Gragnano pasta stuffed with lobster, shared by chef Alain Alders.
A simple lobster salad recipe with orange and fennel confit, by chef Giancarlo Morelli.
For tips on how to prepare your lobster, take a look at our guide to how to boil a lobster in five easy steps.