Welcome to a new episode of Food Discovery. This time again we will head to Japan and discuss the sumptuous Zuwaigani Crab also known as the snow crab or the queen crab.
Japanese cuisine has a long-lasting relationship with seafood. In fact, when it comes to freshness and ingredients from the sea, Japanese chefs lead the way in comparison to other nations. It is no surprise that apprentice and chefs around the world are going on pilgrimage to study Japanese cuisine and their use of Seafood.
Nowadays, Japanese cuisine has spread worldwide and we are all well aware of the sushi and Sushimi craze which shook the world of gastronomy. However, one of Japan’s best delicacy is still underappreciated. I am talking about crabs, not the soft shell or mud crabs heavily consumed in Europe. I am referring to the other ones, the splendid and majestic treasures of the sea: Hairy Crab, Spider Crab, King Crab, Snow crab… In Japan, Crab is a well-renowned delicacy, versatile, it can be prepared and served in many different ways.
Let’s discuss one of the most savourous type of Crab eaten in Japan, the Zuwaigani crab.
ZUWAIGANI Crab (ズワイガニ):
The Zuwaigani crab (ズワイガニ) or Snow crab, is a famous delicacy appreciated in Japan. Despite the fact that these crabs are heavily consumed in Japan, most of the production is imported from Russia and Canada. A few Japanese provinces manage to fish local Crabs such as Toyama or the Echizen province in the Fukui prefecture (If you visit Echizen they have a Crab Museum worth a detour).
Facts: The fishing season for the Zuwaigani crabs is winter, usually from November to March. The Zuwaigani crabs live in the bottom of the sea between 200 to 450 meters below the surface. They are captured thanks to fishing net placed at the bottom of the sea.
Zuwaigani crabs are easily recognizable compared to their famous cousin the King Crab (also heavily consumed in Japan). First of all, the Zuwaigani crab is smaller and his color is less red and pronounced. Also, the particularity of the Zuwaigani crab is the fact that they have four sets of walking legs and a pair of claws.
How to eat?
Crabs (or Kani in Japanese) is one of the best delicacies you can try in Japan, and it is also one of the most underrated. Tourists visiting Japan tend to focus on popular dishes such as traditional Sushi, Ramen, Okonomiyaki, Yakisoba, Yakitori, and so on… It’s quite rare to find people traveling in Japan with Crab mentioned in their To-Eat-List. However, if you visit Japan, you must give a try at Zuwaigani crab, it is a typical Japanese ingredient, and it is absolutely delicious.
Zuwaigani crab has a succulent and delicate meat. Flavorful and sweet, it can be prepared in many ways.
The purists will tell you that to truly appreciate Zuwaigani meat, the simpler the better, which means one thing: delicious nigiri sushi or Sashimi.
Also, you can experience Zuwaigani grilled over charcoal, prepared in Nabe pot, boiled in salted water, stir fried and cooked in a tempura preparation.
The best thing i would recommend is to book a dinner at a restaurant offering a full course revolving around crab specialities such as KaniHonke. They will serve you plenty of dishes prepared with Crab so you can experience it at his best.
On a personal notefavourite my favorite way of eating crab is the Kani Miso, eaten straight from the head of the Crab, it is a mix of the crab’s brain, internal organs, sake, and other ingredients. It sounds repulsing but it is a real flavor bomb, an explosion of Umami in your palate.
Where to eat?
If you are on a budget, Eating A-list crab in Japan can be very expensive at restaurants even in the heart of Hokkaido. A smart way to solve this problem is to go and buy your crab at sea markets (such as the Nijo Market in Sapporo or the morning market at Hakodate).
Here a list of restaurants and markets in Japan recommended for Zuwaigani crab :
They have locations all around Japan. Visit their website for more details
Japan, 〒104-0061 Tokyo, Chuo, 銀座8-7 ギンザナイン2号館2F
Japan, 〒060-0053 Hokkaido Prefecture, Sapporo, Chuo Ward, 南3条東1丁目〜東2丁目
Hakodate Asaichi (Hakodate) :
Japan, 〒040-0063 Hokkaido Prefecture, Hakodate, 若松町9−19
And just for the pleasure of the eyes a quick video about the Zuwaigani crab: