Crab VarietiesThere are over 4,400 varieties of crabs. Here is general identifying information for the most common edible varieties of crab.
• Blue Crab: Its latin name, Calinectes sapidus, means "beautiful swimmer," and it is indeed a beautiful blue-green color. The most prolific species on the East Coast of the US, this is the crab which also gives us crabs. They range in size from 3-1/2 inches up to 5-1/2 inches or more on the market.
• Dungeness Crab: Latin name Cancer magister, this crab is found in coastal waters from Alaska, United States to Baja, Mexico. This large crab usually weighs in from 1-3/4 to 4 pounds, and is brown to purple in color. It is named for the former small town of Dungeness on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, US, which first began commercially-harvesting the delicacy. Law requires the crab to be at least 6-1/4 inches long to be harvested, and only males can be taken. Prime season is in the winter months. The pink flesh is succulent and sweet.
• Horseshoe Crab: Latin name Limulus polyphemus, this crab is named for its resemblance in shape to a horseshoe. It is considered a living fossil, tracing its roots back some 500 million years. It is found along the Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia to the Yucatan and along Asian coasts from Japan and the Philippines to India.
• King Crab: Latin name Paralithodes camtschaticus, this giant crab is also often called "Alaskan King crab," "Japanese crab," and "Russian crab" due to its size, which can reach up to 25 pounds and measure up to 10 feet.
• Peekytoe Crab: These are Maine rock or sand crabs which were pretty much a throwaway by-product of lobster fishing before a brilliant marketing move changed their name to "peekytoes" around 1997. They are classified as Cancer irroratus, also known as bay crab and rock crab. You will find full background information on this interesting and popular crab here.
• Rock Crab: Latin name Cancer quanbumi, it is found along the East coast of the US, living among rocks and in deep water. Its spindly legs make it resemble a spider, and is also known as "spider crab." "Snow crab," (Chionoecetes opilio) "tanner," and "queen crab" are also known as spider crabs.
• Snow Crab: See Rock Crab (above).
• Stone Crab: Latin name Menippe mercenaria, it is also called "moro" or "morro" crab. It has large, very hard claws that are prized for their meat.
More About Crabs and Crab Recipes:• Crab Selection and Storage
• What is a she-crab? FAQ
• Crab Varieties
• Peekytoe Crabs
• Crabs and Health
• Crab History
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